In New Jersey, one teacher lost her job at a charter school last year. Now she’s striking back, hitting the Paterson school with a lawsuit alleging that the fifth-grade students that she taught sexually harassed her during her time as a teacher. The teacher’s name is Denise Kruse and she’s ready to fight the Community Charter School of Paterson and get money from them for damages after she alleged students repeatedly asked her if she engaged in oral sex, thrusted their pelvises at her in a disgusting way and even reached into their pants to fondle their genitals in front of it.
If those allegations were not enough, Kruse’s students didn’t stop there. They also called out to her in class, making sexual comments and jokes. They even commented on her buttocks and video-recorded her from behind when she wasn’t watching to post the content on their SnapChat profiles.
Because Kruse’s lawyer Heidi Weintraub claims that the charter school never helped Kruse defend against the harassment, they are at fault.
Not only has Kruse claimed that she was sexually harassed while teaching the fifth-grade class at Community Charter, but she also claims that she lost her job because of her race. After an African American by the name of Curtis Palmore rose to the role of the chief executive officer in 2017, Kruse claims that white teachers started losing their jobs and were being replaced with African Americans.
When the charter school heard about Kruse’s allegations, they immediately issued a statement making it clear that they do not tolerate harassment of any kind, discrimination or retaliation.
“The Community Charter School of Paterson is deeply committed to creating a workplace and learning community that is free of harassment or discrimination of any kind, where students and staff alike feel safe, supported and cared for,” said the school’s statement. “While the school cannot comment on a complaint that has not been served, or publicly discuss an employee’s job performance, one can be assured that the school’s protocols for investigating and addressing sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation are consistent, fair and thorough.”
Community Charter has a history of sexual harassment. Last year, they paid $90,000 to settle a lawsuit that a substitute teacher filed against one of the school’s admins named Manny Martinez. He abandoned the school when he got an offer for a higher paying job at the College Achieve charter school nearby.
College Achieve also has a history of problems. Their current principal Henry McNair faces numerous accusations of sexual misconduct from his time working at schools in Newark and Trenton.
Kruse said she worked at Community Charter starting in February 2016 when she was hired as a special education teacher. She had experience teaching students with autism before moving to Community Charter.
Kruse was shifted to a remedial fifth-grade class in February 2018. In April of that year, she started getting harassed. Kruse reported the students’ inappropriate behavior to administrators including Martinez but no appropriate steps were taken, and she was continuously harassed.
After reporting the harassment, the school notified her on May 15, 2018, that her contract would not be renewed. She was not given an explanation for the reason for her termination.