Bon voyage! Judge upholds ritzy NYC high school’s right to fire teacher over wine
A judge has ruled that a fancypants Manhattan prep school had the right to fire a French teacher who allowed six high school seniors to drink glasses of wine during a school-sponsored trip to Paris.
The parents of the six senior girls — all reportedly 18 years old — gave the teacher, Daniele Benatouil, permission to introduce the students to the joys of Parisian hooch, the New York Daily News reports. However, Benatouil did not obtain permission to violate the Calhoun School’s zero-tolerance alcohol policy.
In her wrongful-termination lawsuit, Benatouil argued that the purpose of the European jaunt was to experience France’s art, culture and cuisine. Wine, she maintained, is among the signature characteristics of French life.
“Having a glass of wine with a meal is absolutely a big part of the French cultural experience,” she told the Daily News. “It’s very traditional — like having a hamburger in New York.”
The self-described progressive Calhoun School disagreed. School administrators were miffed when the students returned stateside and presented a video showing them quaffing vino with dinner.
“It was very difficult to witness the children having alcohol, given the expectations of our school,” one official told Benatouil, the Daily News notes.
Judge Shlomo Hagler decreed that Benatouil improperly failed to uphold the school’s policy strictly forbidding libations.
“In this case, the school has established a clear and unambiguous zero tolerance policy prohibiting a student’s use of alcohol or drugs during school hours and at school sponsored activities,” Judge Halger wrote, according to the New York Post.
Hagler also determined that Benatouil should have been known about the rule and followed it.
Benatouil was given her walking papers upon returning from the 2010 frolic. She had taught at the swanky upper West Side school for 13 years.
The veteran language instructor now works at a nearby New York City public school.
Her attorney had asked the court to award Benatouil $120,000 — a year’s worth of salary and benefits. He is reportedly considering an appeal.
The legal drinking age in France is 18. This age was raised from 16 to 18 in 2006.
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