The former principal of New York's first Arabic school suffered a setback on Wednesday when a judge ruled the school can proceed with its search for a new leader.
Debbie Almontaser, who resigned before the public school opened in September, said in a federal lawsuit last month the city wrongly forced her to quit under pressure due to negative media coverage.
She sought to halt the process of naming a new principal for the Khalil Gibran International Academy, but U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein turned her down.
The judge said it was in the education department's interest to insure public attention on the school is positive.
The controversy began weeks before the school opened in September, when Almontaser was linked to a group of Muslim artists who printed T-shirts using the word "intifada."
She was quoted in local media as saying the term, which typically refers to the Palestinian uprising against Israel, can be understood as a feminist slogan meaning "shaking off."
"It was reasonable for the (Department of Education) to conclude that the reaction to (Almontaser's) speech was likely to disrupt KGIA," the judge said.
The judge also rejected her claim the city violated her freedom of speech. He said because interacting with the media was part of her job, she was not protected by the same rights as people speaking on their own behalf.
Almontaser's lawyer said he would appeal.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Doina Chiacu)