The Lawrence School District has settled a lawsuit for $145,000 that was brought by former guidance counselor Jay Silverstein, who alleged he was fired for being viewed as “anti-Orthodox,” according to his attorney.
Silverstein, of Atlantic Beach, alleged in his 2010 lawsuit that he was let go from his $140,000-a-year guidance director's job because Lawrence School Board members, who are mostly Orthodox Jews, viewed him as "anti-Orthodox." The suit alleged that the firing violated Silverstein’s right to freedom of speech.
“I'm happy that my client received some restitution. He performed his job duties admirably and should not have been treated this way,” Silverstein’s attorney, Rick Ostrove of the Carle Place law firm Leeds Brown Law P.C., said in a press release. “Perceptions about religion should never play any role in how our public schools operate."
Lawrence School District officials could not be reached for comment by press time.
U.S. Magistrate Judge William Wall, in Central Islip, ordered the case closed on June 19. The settlement was reached earlier this year and was approved by the Lawrence school board at a special meeting on May 30, according to a press release.
In his lawsuit, Silverstein said he was advised by then-Superintendent Dr. John Fitzsimons that he could “boost his chances of obtaining job tenure by becoming friendlier with board members and with a fellow administrator who was said to be Orthodox and influential,” the press release says.
Silverstein never received tenure and was terminated by the district in November 2009, despite strong job performance ratings, according to the suit. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Lawrence School Board in 2010. Silverstein now works as a consultant and does private counseling.