|James Madison High School|
|Cindy Mauro (left) and Alini Brito (right)|
It was a November night in 2009 when Alina Brito, a Spanish teacher at James Madison High School in Brooklyn, and Cindy Mauro, a French teacher there, went out with a colleague to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner, and a cocktail or two.
They returned to watch a student musical performance in the auditorium, but they did not stay long. Before the first intermission, Ms. Brito and Ms. Mauro left the show, walking up two flights to Room 337, a classroom Ms. Mauro often taught in.
“They had left the door to the room unlocked, and the lights were out. What were they doing?” asked a judge in an animated court ruling in 2012.
A custodian heard noises, peered inside and, he said, saw a woman on the floor, topless. He alerted security. A school safety agent then barged into the room, the judge wrote, and “saw a brunette woman (Brito is dark haired) completely naked, lying on the floor” and “a blond woman (Mauro is light haired) also naked on top of the brunette.”
They instantly became the most famous teachers in New York City, winning their school the tabloid nickname of “Horndog High.” But though it all might have sounded like the stuff of overheated high school fantasy, it had some very grown-up consequences: They were fired.
Their case has gone through a series of twists, the latest this week, when an appeals court ruled, more than four years after the episode, that Ms. Brito and Ms. Mauro must be put back on the city’s payroll.
Given that they were consenting adults, that no students were harmed as a result of their actions and that they broke no laws, the appellate division of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled that terminating their employment was “shockingly disproportionate” to the misconduct. Their “behavior demonstrated a lapse in judgment,” it continued, but “there is no evidence that this incident was anything but a one-time mistake.”
The five-judge panel added, “Indeed, lesser penalties have been imposed where a teacher had an ongoing relationship or engaged in inappropriate behavior with a student.”
During the initial arbitration process, Ms. Brito and Ms. Mauro argued that there had been no impropriety whatsoever. Ms. Brito — who had required medical attention in the past — said she was suffering from reactive hypoglycemia, and Ms. Mauro was attending to her by laying her down, getting her sugar packets and elevating her feet, they said. Other than a sweater, which had been repurposed as a pillow for Ms. Brito, they said they were both fully dressed. They lost.
When they appealed their dismissal in court, the judge overseeing Ms. Brito’s case ruled that her offense did not warrant termination. The judge also ruled that Ms. Brito had been deprived of due process, because a surveillance tape showing the hallway outside the classroom, which could have shed light on the witnesses’ account, had been erased.
The judge overseeing Ms. Mauro’s case came to the opposite conclusion, however, upholding the arbitrator’s decision that she should be fired.
Barring an appeal, this week’s ruling, reported Friday by The New York Post, means both teachers’ cases will be sent back to arbitration for a lesser penalty, which could include a reprimand, suspension or fine.
In a statement, the city’s Law Department said lawyers were considering their options.
Both women are off the payroll, though they are likely to receive back pay if the ruling stands. An Education Department spokesman could not say if the teachers would be allowed back into classrooms.
Michael A. Valentin, a lawyer for the women, did not respond to messages left Friday.
Teachers caught in topless lesbian romp get their jobs back at 'Horndog High'
- The two language teachers were fired in 2012 over an alleged lesbian tryst in a classroom
- Cindy Mauro and Alini Brito deny there was any such tryst
- The pair appealed the school's decision to fire them
- Judges in the appeal found firing the two women to be 'shockingly disproportionate' to their alleged misconduct
|Disgraced teachers Alini Brito (left) and Cindy Mauro are allowed to teach again following an appeal |
after being fired for 'lesbian tryst'
|Denial: Brito and Mauro claim nothing inappropriate went on and that witnesses let their imaginations |
get the best of them
'Horndog High' teachers fired after sexy romp get their jobs back: court
A Manhattan appeals court ruled language teachers Alina Brito and Cindy Mauro — who were accused of having a same-sex romp on school grounds in November 2009 while students and staff were at a singing competition — can have their jobs back at James Madison High School in Midwood, Brooklyn, because the pair has ‘unblemished’ discipline records and had a ‘lapse in judgment’ on the day in question.
Two randy Romance language teachers fired for their lesbian grope session in a darkened classroom at James Madison High School are entitled to get their jobs back, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
Spanish teacher Alini Brito and French instructor Cindy Mauro won their long legal battle to return to the classroom — although perhaps not the darkened one where they were spotted in November 2009.
“The penalty of termination of unemployment is shockingly disproportionate to (their) misconduct,” the five-judge Manhattan Appellate Division panel declared in a sharp rebuke of city education officials.
The judges noted the two women were consenting adults who were not inside the Brooklyn school in any official capacity when they were caught with their pants on — and their shirts off. “I can tell you one thing for sure: My clients will be happy to be back in the classroom doing a job they love,” said their lawyer, Michael Valentine of the firm Altman Schochet.
“They were both good at what they did,” he added.
“The record showed they were extremely competent professionals.”
Valentine suggested the pair, in addition to getting their jobs back, are entitled to back pay.
The two tenured teachers were yanked from the classroom at the Midwood school once the headline-making allegations went public.
The case was kicked back to city education officials to impose a less-severe penalty.
Officials would not say if they planned to appeal the decision or what sanctions the pair could face.
“We are disappointed with the decision and are considering our options,” said Education Department spokesman David Pena
Mauro, 38, and Brito, 34, were fired in January 2011 by Education Department officials after a janitor insisted he stumbled upon the pair getting busy during the annual school singing competition.
A report by investigators found the pair slipped away to Room 337, where one was seen naked from the waist up and the other was on her knees.
The night of lust started with the teachers going to a bar and knocking back drinks.
Brito had a shot of tequila and a martini, the investigators alleged.
The two teachers denied any hanky-panky, insisting they went to the classroom because the diabetic Brito needed some candy to stabilize her blood sugar.
The appeals court — made up of justices Angela Mazzarelli, Richard Andrias, Leland DeGrasse, Helen Freedman and Judith Gische — appeared to believe the janitor’s version, but ruled that “consensual sexual contact” was not enough to merit firing.
“While (Brito’s) behavior demonstrated a lapse in judgment, there is no evidence that this incident was anything but a one-time mistake,” the panel ruled.
Brito, the judges wrote, “was described by her supervisor as one of the best teachers she had ever worked with.”
In a separate decision, the same judges noted that Mauro boasted an “unblemished disciplinary record and consistent satisfactory teacher ratings.”
The pair’s escapades were only the first in a long line of sexual shenanigans at the school.
Erin Sayar pleaded guilty last year to having sex with a 16-year-old male student. Sayar received 10 years’ probation.
In 2009, social studies teacher Allison Musacchio was probed for having an inappropriate relationship with a male student. The investigation was ultimately closed because the teen was above the age of consent and had left the school.
With Ben Chapman
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña attempting to block 'Horndog High' teachers fired for romp from returning to school
Former James Madison High School instructors Cindy Mauro and Alini Brito were caught in a darkened classroom in November 2009, and fired in January 2011. An appeals court recently granted them the right to return to work, but schools boss Fariña is trying to stop that from happening.
Former James Madison High School instructors Cindy Mauro and Alini Brito were caught having a grope session in a darkened classroom in November 2009. The pair was fired in January 2011 after a lengthy investigation and legal battle.
But the two Romance language instructors, who have steadfastly maintained their innocence, were granted the right to return to work in city schools, after a judge decided they deserved lesser punishment.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña wants to stop that from happening. “We have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior from our professionals and in our schools,” Fariña said. “So we are pursuing all options going forward and if we have a legal basis for this we will certainly appeal.”
Mauro, 38, and Brito, 34, were fired after a janitor told administrators he accidentally walked in on the pair doing some hands-on instruction during a school singing competition.
Investigators said the pair got drinks at a nearby bar before they were caught in a darkened classroom, where one was spotted topless and the other on her knees.
The two denied the charges and said they slipped off to the classroom alone because diabetic Brito needed a candy fix to aid her blood sugar.
The appeals court that granted their reinstatement appeared to buy the janitor’s story, but ruled that “consensual sexual contact” between the two wasn’t a fireable offense.
City officials wouldn’t give any details of what the appeal of the disgraced educators’ reinstatement might look like, but said the city could argue the case again.
Their lawyer Michael Valentine didn’t return calls for comment.
With Barbara Ross