So let me get this straight, if you were a director of Seminary girls that touched up countless innocent students, then you can keep your position and your seminaries until the cows come home, but if you are a student and anonymous person calls up the principle and tells the principle an unsubstantiated story then we throw the student out!
Preliminary proceedings have begun in a case being brought against a Brooklyn Bais Yaakov, with the presiding judge at the initial hearing expressing incredulity that a teenager could have been thrown out of school because of an unproven accusation by an unnamed individual.
Lev Bais Yaakov is being sued by a former student, identified in court records only as G.S. because of her age, for expelling her in December 2013 after the school’s principal allegedly received a phone call from a mother charging that G.S. had texted an inappropriate picture of herself to a boy.
There is 30 pages of court transcripts of the initial hearing, which took place on June 30th in Brooklyn federal court. According to the transcript, G.S.’s attorney Robert Tolchin outlined the details of the incident to Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., who confirmed facts with Adam Guzik and Israel Goldberg, attorneys for Lev Bais Yaakov, located in Sheepshead Bay.
Tolchin said that his client was ejected from Lev Bais Yaakov because of the picture, which neither his client’s parents, nor anyone in the school, had ever seen. While the claim had originally been made that it was the menaheles, Mrs. Rivka Oratz, who had received the anonymous tip, Tolchin told Judge Reyes it was actually another member of the administration, tentatively identified by Guzik as general studies principal Batya Sochaczewski, who took the call.
Guzik stated that he had yet to speak with Mrs. Sochaczewski but that it was his understanding that the school’s principals never saw the picture. Goldberg noted that he believed that the anonymous tipster declined to show anyone alleged picture out of concern that it might tarnish her son’s reputation within the community.
Asked by Judge Reyes if G.S. has been expelled because of an anonymous tip with no proof supplied, Guzik did not deny the claims but rather countered that the alleged offense was a major infraction of school rules. Guzik’s remark prompted the judge to respond with incredulity, asking the defense lawyer twice in succession, “Are you serious?”
Guzik, who said he had not seen all of the case files yet, said that he believed that G.S. had been disciplined by Lev Bais Yaakov previously for both in-school cell phone usage and behavioral issues and that she was struggling academically, which precipitated meetings between the school and her parents. Goldberg described G.S. as a “troubled girl” who “was causing trouble” and suggested that her ejection after the anonymous phone call “may have been just the culmination of those many issues.”
Judge Reyes expressed concern about the school’s decision to expel G.S.
“It’s really troubling,” said Judge Reyes. “It’s really troubling. The straw that broke the camel’s back was an anonymous call and an allegation, if it even happened. You’ve got to admit it’s problematic.”
The June 30th hearing was just the first step in what could be a lengthy legal process, and both sides will begin the disclosure process to identify potential witnesses and relevant documents. All depositions are scheduled to be completed by the end of December and Tolchin says he expects a trial to begin in early 2016.
“I am looking forward to having the process bring out the truth of what happened,” Tolchin told reporters..