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The civil trial in which a former Francis Lewis High School special education teacher accused the Board of Education of not shielding him from the harassment he faced from students ended in a hung jury last week, a spokeswoman for the city Law Department said.
A new trial will begin in Brooklyn federal court Monday, said Kate OBrien Ahlers, the spokeswoman for the Law Department.
The judge declared the first trial a mistrial when jurors said they could not break their four-to-four deadlock after two days of deliberations, Ahlers said.
According to the suit, Vincent Peries, an immigrant from Sri Lanka, is asking for $250,000 from the Board of Education, contending that school officials failed to prevent students at the Fresh Meadows high school from harassing him, said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the Board of Ed.
Jeffrey Slade, the lawyer for Peries, and Lisa Grumet, the lawyer for the city, did not return phone calls.
According to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn last month, Peries claims that his students often teased him, mocking his racial background and making it difficult for him to supervise them, Ortiz said.
Ortiz said the case is rare because school lawsuits usually involve a student suing a teacher. He said he could not remember a case in which a teacher filed a suit over poor student behavior.
The case is also strange because the behavior of special education students may often be more difficult to control that of other students, Ortiz said. According to Board of Education regulations, special education students can only be suspended under extreme circumstances. Otherwise, special education teachers must handle their behavioral problems, he added.
The special education students under Peries supervision may have been physically or mentally handicapped or emotionally troubled, Ortiz said.
Francis Lewis High School officials declined to comment on the case.
Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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