BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A teacher accused of cursing at her students is defending her six-year career with the Buffalo Public School District.
Eighth grade Spanish teacher Lisa Lucente says she was removed from her job before administrators even told her what she is accused of. She is accused of cursing at students, and using derogatory language in Spanish in front of them.
"Unless I was dreaming, I don't know that I would ever say stuff like that - let alone in English - not say it in Spanish," Lucente countered.
Lucente is certified to teach Spanish and Italian, but this year she is just teaching eighth grade Spanish at Community School 53 in South Buffalo, and Houghton Academy. While on the job, she received a letter from the Central Office that she is on administrative leave - the equivalent of suspended with pay - and she was to turn in all her school-related belongings, including her laptop, books, and papers.
"And I was no longer welcome on district property any place. They would press charges if I showed up at any district events, or if I was on district property," Lucente recalled. "So it was like I was 'persona non grata.' I was like a criminal."
Lucente was summoned to a meeting where she was told the reason for the disciplinary action was some students had complained about her coarse and abusive language, which she adamantly denies.
"We are all like in a little pressure cooker, and everybody deals with it differently. But would I swear at my students? Absolutely never," Lucente contended. "Would I call them names that involve curse words? No, I would never do that."
Buffalo City Schools officials declined to comment about her case other than a brief written statement saying: "An investigation of allegations is ongoing at this time. It is district policy to make no comment on personnel matters."
Lucente believes the die is already cast.
"If you are going to come to me, after the fact, and present me with these allegations and then tell my I am on punishment until the allegations have been investigated, guess what? You have already told me I'm guilty," Lucente said.
There was no comment from the Buffalo Teachers Federation, who is handling Lucente's case, along with the state teacher's union, New York State Teachers United.
Lucente said she can think of at least four students in her Spanish class who could be leveling these allegations against her. But it also turns out administrators had already collected sworn statements from school personnel before they confronted Lucente.
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