Staff allege discrimination in Riverhead school suit

More than a dozen teachers and other staff members of the Riverhead Charter School have filed a lawsuit claiming they were discriminated against by the school's principal.

Farah Martin says that at the start of the last school year, she was a favorite of school Principal Raymond Ankrum. The theater teacher says that disposition changed once Ankrum found out she is gay.

"Mr. Ankrum went from loving what I had done in the classroom to absolutely hating me and targeting me for being in a same-sex relationship," Martin says.

According to Martin, she was fired before the end of the school year and escorted from the building five minutes before her first class of the day.

Her allegations of discrimination are just some of the claims comprising a 50-page lawsuit. Seventeen current and former teachers say that Ankrum routinely discriminated against them for various reasons.

Attorneys Jon-Paul Gabriele and Joseph Dell are representing the plaintiffs.

"This is a case of unlawful discrimination based upon race, based upon gender, based upon disability, based on sexual orientation," Gabriele says.

Dells claims that Ankrum would make comments regarding whether a teacher was "hot" enough to work at the school, and would also chide teachers for the length of their skirts.

Mary Ellen Weaver is a former sixth-grade teacher at the school. She says that Ankrum's discriminatory ways become evident when she was hired in 2012.

"He started off the year by saying he inherited an ugly, white staff, and he only went from there," she says.

The plaintiffs also say that Ankrum would post sexist and racist remarks on Twitter. Their attorneys provided screenshots of the tweets, which say "white male privilege is really something in these United States," and "... more male educators are needed." 

News 12 reached out to the Riverhead Charter School and Mr. Ankrum for comment, but has not yet heard back.

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