EXCLUSIVE: ‘Abusive’ Principal Pushed Teacher Out Of School, Lawsuit Says

P.S. 60 Q in Woodhaven

P.S. 60 Q in Woodhaven

By Christina Carrega

A Woodhaven elementary school teacher hopes to slap her boss with a $3 million lawsuit for causing her take a medical leave of absence for his “misogynistic tone.”

For 11 years, Christine Reaves has educated students at P.S. 60Q where Frank DeSario is the principal. Reaves said that, for unknown reasons, she began receiving “angry, abusive, intimidating” behavior from DeSario on a regular basis during the 2016 school year.

On three occasions DeSario called Reaves into his office where she was greeted by her own father, according to the petition filed in Queens Civil Supreme Court on Dec. 20. Reaves said she spent up to two hours in the office and away from students on each occasion, according to the petition.

During those meetings, DeSario discussed Reaves’ employment with Reaves’ father, shared his views about other female staffers and made derogatory comments the students, the petition said.

DeSario said the other women were “nothing but bitches,” described the student population as "1200 urchins" and said that it had become more difficult dealing with parents and students since "the neighborhood had changed," according to the court documents.

During other meetings, DeSario bullied, threatened, browbeat and loudly reprimanded Reaves about alleged infractions that she had not committed and other petty matters such as penmanship and bulletin boards, the documents read.

“He also bullied and verbally abused her in front of students, parents and colleagues, making false accusations against her, impugning her professionalism, and engaging in egregious personal attacks,” according to the documents.

Reaves filed the court documents to request a judge grant permission to file a late notice of claim — the first step before filing a lawsuit against the city — against the Department of Education (DOE) and DeSario.

“We will review Ms. Reaves’ petition and respond accordingly,” said Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman with the city’s law department, which represents the DOE.

The second-grade teacher is seeking $3 million in damages for emotional distress, anxiety, humiliation, injury to reputation, emotional harm, pain and suffering, career, family and social disruption and other grievous harm.

As the months passed, DeSario allegedly took his abusive tactics to another level in June by issuing an inaccurate and “damning performance review that falsely characterized her teaching performance,” the petition read. DeSario then reassigned Reaves in August back to teaching kindergarten.

Before the school year began in September, Reaves used her accumulated sick days instead of dealing with “further abuse from Mr. DeSario.” During her month off, Reaves was diagnosed by two separate doctors as suffering from extreme emotional distress that is “caused by the conduct she experienced at the hands of Mr. DeSario,” the petition read.

In October, Reaves was approved to take a medical leave until the end of January.

During her time off, Reaves filed complaints with the superintendent who assured her that a thorough investigation would occur. Three weeks later, Reaves was informed that no further action would be taken by the superintendent.

Reaves also notified her union representative. The union filed its own grievances against DeSario, according to the court documents.

Before filing the petition in civil court, Reaves “attempted” to reach out to DOE officials, to no avail, according to court documents.

Reaves is represented by Patrick J. Walsh of Broach and Stulberg. Queens Civil Court Judge Duane Hart was assigned to the case.

DeSario, who started working for the DOE in 1991, became principal at Q060 in 2004. He earned over $163,000 this year.

DeSario and the United Federation of Teachers did not provide comment as of press time.