MINEOLA, N.Y. (CN) – In a classic tale of overkill, a public schoolteacher who’s in the Army reserve says he lost his Top Secret clearance, promotion to colonel and admission to the Army War College because of defamatory tales from his school bosses about the way he graded a standardized test. And he says his bosses knew he didn’t even grade that test.
Lt. Col. Robert Browne, who taught social studies at Oyster Bay High School for 18 years, say administrators stripped him of his teaching job, defamed him to teachers and parents, and harassed him so badly he needed to take anxiety medications.
Browne, 48, has a Master’s degree and says he “always received glowing performance reviews” in his 18 years as a teacher and coach.
A member of the Army Reserve, Browne says he was looking forward to entering the War College to earn a promotion to colonel in July 2010. But that was before he was falsely accused of “intentionally or negligently failing to follow the required scoring rubric in rating five essays of certain students on the June 2006 Global History Regents Examination,” according to his complaint in Nassau County Court.
Browne says those charges were “unsubstantiated” and “brought with malice,” as part of the district’s bias against male schoolteachers. He says he was cleared of the charges in “a full hearing” that lasted, on and off, from January 2008 until February 2010. And he says his bosses knew he was innocent because he didn’t even grade the essays: he was busy trying to find a working Scantron machine to mark the multiple-choice section.
What’s more: “The arbitrator further found that given the subjective nature of the rating process and the wide variety of ratings provided by the district, there was no evidence of misconduct on the particular essays in question, regardless of who graded them.”
Browne defendant Superintendent Phyliss Harrington and other school administrators maliciously prosecuted him to “perpetuate their invidious scheme of discrimination” against male teachers.
He says the school reassigned him for 3 years to nonteaching positions during his prosecution, while administrators and colleagues spread rumors against him.
He claims high school Principal Dennis O’Hara said that “what Browne did on the Regents was a disgrace to all teachers and he will be fired”; that the female teacher who replaced him “said she heard Browne was reassigned because he ‘hit a little girl,'” and that parents of one of his students told him they heard he had done “something awful.”
While his charges were pending, Browne says, he lost his Top Secret clearance with the Army, which caused him to be rejected from War College and cost him his promotion to full colonel.
He seeks punitive damages for discrimination, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, negligence, defamation and prima facie tort.
He is represented by Eric Tilton of The Law Office of Steven A. Morelli, of Garden City, N.Y.