Anti-Semitism Alleged at Phoenix School

     PHOENIX (CN) – A Phoenix school district forced a Jewish teacher to quit after her car and classroom door were spray-painted with swastikas and a student wrote, “Hitler should have killed you, you fucking bitch,” the teacher claims in court.
     Janet S. Seplow sued Alhambra School District No. 68, in Maricopa County Court. Alhambra is a public school district in downtown Phoenix.
     Seplow had taught there for 16 years, but the district failed to “either investigate or attempt to discipline any person” after she “had a swastika painted on her classroom door at the school” in May 2008, she says in the complaint.
     In October 2008, Seplow “had her car vandalized in the school parking lot with a swastika painted on the rear fender in pink paint,” the complaint states.
     Seplow says she filed a police report, but “no action was taken by the principal of the school, who refused to even come out to the parking lot to look at the damage which had been done.”
     Seplow says in the complaint that she “complained to human resources regarding the discriminatory anti-Semitic attitude of Dr. Jeffrey Sprout, the school’s principal, and requested to be transferred from that school due to the extremely stressful environment of discrimination and intimidation which existed and the complete lack of any support from her principal.”
     Seplow was denied a transfer.
     Seplow says in the complaint that her school identification card was taken by students on Nov. 19, 2008, and a “swastika was drawn on one side of the card and on the other side of the card writing was placed stating ‘Hitler should have killed you, you fucking bitch.'”
     One student was suspended for seven days, but “the other students involved were not disciplined,” Seplow says.
     Sprout, who “was well known within the district for his own Christian beliefs and background in Christian ministry,” encouraged Seplow not to file a police report, and told her, “I will accept your resignation if you are having a problem,” the complaint states.
     In a January 2009 performance evaluation, Sprout admonished Seplow for complaining to human resources, and claimed that her allegations of anti-Semitism were false, according to the complaint.
     Seplow says she submitted a notice of intent to retire on Oct. 26, 2009 as a “result of the extremely hostile work environment which she found herself in, the retaliatory actions of her principal, and what she felt was an inability to continue in such an environment.”
     The very next day, on Oct. 27, 2009, Seplow was given a letter of reprimand “for discussing her complaints of religious discrimination with other teachers at the school as well as with the Anti-Defamation League,” she says in the complaint.
     Seplow says she was “immediately relieved of all of her classroom teaching duties, stating that she would be re-assigned as a guest teacher within the district for the balance of the school year, thereby forcing her to go from assignment to assignment on a potentially daily basis.”
     Seplow says she was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 14, 2010 for making two statements while guest teaching. She says she “immediately sought an answer as to who her supervisor was so that she could begin the grievance process,” but the school district would not tell her who her supervisor was.
     She says she had no choice but to accelerate her retirement date from May 2010 to Jan. 23, 2010.Seplow seeks back pay, lost wages, and damages for discrimination and retaliation. She is represented by Marshall Martin.

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