Lawsuit: Former Westport student harassed by teachers, told to 'speak English'

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Staples High School on Wednesday July 25, 2018 in Westport Conn.

Staples High School on Wednesday July 25, 2018 in Westport Conn.

Alex von Kleydorff / Hearst Connecticut Media

WESTPORT — A former Staples High School student is suing the town and the Board of Education, claiming she “singled out and treated unfairly” by multiple teachers, including one who reportedly told her to “speak English.”

She is asking for more than $15,000 in damages.

According to the lawsuit, filed Aug. 27 in Fairfield Judicial District Superior Court in Bridgeport, Ayana Maignan-Thompson was a Staples student and Westport resident in 2019 when she experienced multiple incidents of harassment at the hands of teachers. According to the attorney representing her, Maignan-Thompson is no longer a Staples student and is no longer a Westport resident. She is now also older than 18.

The incidents mentioned in the lawsuit allegedly occurred from Aug. 29, 2019, until at least Oct. 4, 2019. The first incident involved a non-specified verbal assault by one teacher during class. Other claims include that, during September 2019, the plaintiff’s math teacher reprimanded her and “told her to learn to ‘speak English.’ ”

Other incidents mentioned in the suit include an occasion on Oct. 4, 2019, when Maignan-Thompson was accused of cheating by another teacher. That same teacher also reportedly reprimanded the plaintiff in September 2019 for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.

The suit claims that Maignan-Thompson “has had similar incidents while a student at Staples where she was singled out and treated unfairly.” It claims that the defendants’ actions were “harassment and unlawful” and that their actions “caused emotional trauma.”

Eileen Francis, office manager for First Selectman James Marpe, said the town would not comment on pending litigation. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice also said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Maignan-Thompson’s attorney Reine C. Boyer, of Trumbull, said neither she nor her client had any comment.

“The lawsuit speaks for itself,” she said.