French Teacher Fired for Giving Students Wine While on Field Trip

Britney Buscaglia

School administrators at the The Calhoun School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side fired Daniele Benatouil, a 12-year veteran French teacher, for allowing six 18-year-old seniors to drink a glass of wine during their school-sponsored trip to France.

Although Benatouil received written permission from the students’ parents allowing the students to have alcohol while in France, she did not obtain authorization from school supervisors. Both the parents and students had previously completed a form required by the school in which students promised to refrain from alcohol and drug use during the May 2010 trip.

After Benatouil’s students presented a video to the school that showed them drinking wine during dinner in France, school administrators fired Benatouil for violating the school’s zero tolerance policy on drug, alcohol and cigarette use. The school maintained that Benatouil’s insubordinate behavior and use of profane language contributed to her dismissal, which Benatouil denied.

Benatouil sued the school for wrongful termination in 2010, but her termination was upheld by acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shlomo S. Hagler in an opinion dated December 26, 2012. Judge Hagler ruled that parental consent did not cancel out The Calhoun School’s right to maintain its zero tolerance policy, of which Benatouil knew or should have known. Benatouil may appeal.
VERDICT: Defense
COURT: Supreme Court, New York County

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