Lawsuit claims racial bias in Vestal schools

A Binghamton attorney alleges a series of racially prejudiced actions led the Vestal school district to suspend a high school senior, and filed suit Wednesday to get him reinstated.

In a complaint filed in Broome County Supreme Court, attorney Ron Benjamin claims the district and five of its employees violated federal and state civil rights laws, beginning around October when a math teacher segregated her classroom and continuing through a racially charged incident in November and a series of administrative decisions since then.

The complaint names the district, along with Superintendent Jeffrey Ahearn, interim high school Principal Albert Penna, assistant principals Deborah Caddick and Clifford Kasson, and teacher Katharine Dyer.

It claims teacher Dyer removed a black student from her class in November because she thought he was smoking, and then used an expletive and a racially charged word. Another student, on whose behalf Benjamin is suing, overheard it and called the teacher "a [expletive] racist."

The Press & Sun-Bulletin is not naming the student because he is a minor.

John R. Roby , jroby@pressconnects.com | @PSBJRoby 12:34 p.m. EST December 22, 2016