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Thursday, May 26, 2016
Malverne lawsuit set for trial
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Malverne Schools Superintendent John Hunderfund, left, is a defendant in the lawsuit, while Sherwyn Besson, a former business teacher at the high school, is one of three plaintiffs.

It describes alleged retaliation for Besson’s vocal criticisms of Hunderfund, including threats to shut down the entire business department, and recounts Ricca’s alleged preferential treatment of white teachers over Smith and the “discriminatory and retaliatory efforts of the administration” to remove him from the high school. According to the complaint, administrators transferred Smith to the middle school because of his students’ poor performance on one Regents exam question.

The defendants “created a hostile work environment, subjected [the plaintiffs] to an atmosphere for adverse acts and treated them disparately because of their race and good-faith opposition to discriminatory practices,” the suit reads.

“We hope to send a message,” Morelli said. “We hope that the school district will take notice and do something about this.”

Malverne school district officials would not comment on the ongoing case.

In a March 1 letter to U.S. Magistrate Gary Brown, Melissa Holtzer, an attorney for the Malverne schools, wrote, “The parties have been working hard to complete discovery within the time frame that the court provided.” Holtzer pointed out, however, that although almost all of the district’s depositions, including that of Hunderfund, would be completed by mid-March, Brown could not be deposed until later in the month.

Discovery is the pre-trial phase of a lawsuit, during which the opposing parties request and obtain evidence from each other. Steven Morelli, the attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Herald that now that discovery was nearly completed, a trial would probably begin in late spring.


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