The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled Friday that the former interim principal of a Brooklyn Arabic school was discriminated against, after she was fired for defending the Arabic word "intifada" in a printed interview.
Former Khalil Gibran International Academy principal Debbie Almontaser lost her suit against the city Department of Education, in which she said her First Amendment rights were violated when she was fired because she did not condemn a T-shirt that featured the slogan "Infitada NYC."
She said "intifada," which means "uprising," had non-violent origins.
According to Almontaser's lawyer, the judge dismissed the case, ruling her speech was not protected by the Bill of Rights because she was acting as an employee.
In September 2009, a federal court upheld the original ruling.
The EEOC ruling said that Almontaser was told by DOE officials that her school would be closed unless she resigned her position.
The City Law Department said in a statement, "The EEOC's finding is without any basis whatsoever. The DOE in no way discriminated against Ms. Almontaser and she will not be reinstated. If she continues to pursue litigation, we will vigorously defend against her groundless allegations."
Almontaser is seeking to be reinstated as a principal, and demands lost wages and $300,000 in damages.