KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District and some of its employees are being sued for $2 million.
A lawsuit filed by Housh Law Offices claims that a volleyball coach at the school district made anti-Semitic remarks against a student and psychologically bullied him.
Nick Sereday also worked as a substitute teacher and a lifeguard, according to the district, which in a statement said allegations made toward him were thoroughly investigated from their end. The full statement is below.
As to the lawsuit, it says that last year, Coach Sereday overheard a male student discussing his Jewish heritage, which led him to say “I didn’t know you people played sports!”
Following that, the lawsuit claims Sereday targeted the student for abuse based on his religious heritage, calling him names such as “garbage” and “a little b****.”
In one instance, the student says he was forced to run laps alone and was told “You’re not good enough.” The student was eventually benched and quit the team.
Before he quit though, the lawsuit says the student reported what happened.
His parents spoke with the school’s Athletic Director Jim Badgely, Principal Patrick Heyden and Assistant Principals Joseph Greco and Trevor Brown, but the lawsuit says they ignored the claims.
The student went on to tell other students they should “stand up” to Sereday, calling him an “anti-Semitic p***k.” A Facebook image featuring Sereday’s face and the words “Remember kids, choose volleyball and not Jews,” was distributed.
After the image was distributed, Badgley and Greco threatened to suspend the student if he spoke out against Sereday again, the lawsuit says. They also claimed they “could sue [him].”
A conference call involving Heyden and Brown soon followed, and during that time, the lawsuit claims Heyden said “I don’t give a s*** about a Facebook post.”
The lawsuit also claims a classmate approached the student and felt free to mock him, asking “Did your ancestors burn too?”
According to the lawsuit, Sereday, and school administrators’ failure to respond to his behavior, created a hostile environment for Jewish people at Kenmore East High School and the school district in general.
Eventually, the school district was told that the student no longer felt safe at Kenmore East High School.
The lawsuit against the school district, its board of education, Sereday, Badgely and Greco, claims serious psychological harm was done to the student.
Therefore, the law firm representing the student is demanding $2 million in compensatory damages.
Because of this pending litigation, the school district cannot comment further at this point in time, but offered this statement:
The Ken-Ton School District has zero tolerance for harassment, bullying, or discrimination of any kind by students or staff. Any allegation of harassment and or discrimination by a member of the staff or a student is taken extremely seriously and investigated exhaustively. If an allegation was found to have merit, the district would take any and all action within its authority to appropriately respond to the allegations. The district’s goal is always to create a positive and safe school environment which is free of harassment, bullying, and discrimination.Statement from the Ken-Ton School District
The allegations about Coach Sereday have been thoroughly investigated and at no time throughout the course of this investigation has the district found any cause or need to place Coach Sereday on leave or be subject to disciplinary action.
These allegations originated in fall 2018. The Ken-Ton School District received a letter from the plaintiff’s attorney, Frank Housh, raising allegations about district administrators and Coach Sereday, which were later included in a notice of claim. Upon receipt of the letter, the Ken-Ton School District hired an investigator to thoroughly investigate all of the allegations. The investigator tried to speak to the plaintiffs, but his attorney did not allow them to do so. Based on all the information gathered as part of the investigation, the investigator concluded that the allegations were unfounded. The district emphatically denies the claims that have been made about its district staff and administrators.Statement from the Ken-Ton School District