Sorry, We Thought You Were A Witch

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 6, 2007 — 8 Comments

The Repository in Canton, Ohio reports on a teacher who is suing The Hampton Bays school district in Long Island, N.Y for firing her because they believed she was a Witch. Lauren Berrios, who is Jewish, claims that rumors of witchcraft started circulating when she didn’t attend Christian services that she was invited to.

“In 2001, Lauren Berrios filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Central Islip saying she was fired because co-workers wrongly believed she was a witch. Berrios is Jewish and said the witchcraft rumors surfaced because she turned down invitations to attend Christian services. The accusations intensified after a fifth-grade reading lesson on the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when Berrios mentioned the Salem witch trials in a historical context, said her lawyer, John Ray.”

The school claims that the firing was due to poor performance, but this doesn’t seem to add up with reports on Berrios’s performance at her new job in Atlanta where she was voted teacher of the month. Berrios’s attorney also claims to have some fairly concrete evidence proving that the school thought she was a Witch.

“Ray said he has strong evidence to prove Berrios was fired amid religious hysteria. He said he plans to call former principal Andrew Albano as a witness. Ray said he will read testimony into the court record of Albano saying during a deposition that he believed Berrios practiced witchcraft. Albano could not be reached Monday.”

If Berrios wins this case (the suit is for 2 million dollars), it could act as a strong deterrent against future arbitrary firings due to a perceived adherence to a modern Pagan faith. Her experience mirrors many modern Pagans who are in the “broom closet” due to working in places with a predominately Christian staff (or clientele), and who fear the effects of the “rumor mill” on their livelihood. Opening statements for the case are scheduled for Wednesday.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Hermgirl

    Holy schnieckies! So now people think you have to go to church with them just to prove you’re not a witch! And if you are, you deserve to lose your job! That lady should sue them for 10 million, not 2 million. Our rights shouldn’t go so cheaply.

  • Chiara Chavez

    Mrs.Berrios? A witch? HARDLY!! My name is chiara chavez and Mrs.berrios is my reading comprehension teacher. she now teaches at sandy springs middle shool and im in her 6th period. In all the time I’ve been here i have never heard her talk about witches or witch craft or anything of the sort.

  • Anonymous

    I thought I might add that I was accused of being a witch when I taught in a rural mountain school for very similar reasons. (For example, I had students read a historical novel called THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND.) A small part of the community assumed that because I taught about Salem Witch Trials, didn’t belong to a church, lived alone, and “visited San Francisco frequently” that (therefore!) I must be a witch. Fortunately my principal was extremely supportive and actually threatened to take the accuser to court if she didn’t stop – but it was a very uncomfortable time. I could write a book…..

  • Anonymous

    wow…..I know her from school(sandy springs middle school) i’m one of her students i really dont think she is a witch…she never talked about anything like that….

  • Anonymous

    I am a colleague of Lauren Berrios. I have observed her teach on numerous occasions. Lauren is an incredible teacher; dedicated, intelligent, caring and compassionate in her instructional approach. Students and faculty respect her professionalism. Lauren is meticuluous in her appearance and always dresses appropriately. She is NOT a witch.

  • Felix

    I have yet had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Berrios but I am certainly looking forward to it. When that day arrives, I have these choice words for her:Thank you. I couldn’t care less about what did or didn’t transpire at her former school. What I do care about is my daughter who is currently a student in her class. Due in large part to the tone and standards Mrs. Berrios set for her students at the beginning of the term, my oldest is experiencing (by far) her best school year to date.In the past, my daughter has struggled as a ‘C’ student. This year has been entirely different. She is showing much more interest and pride in her work. She’s on pace for her first honor roll, and the day-to-day teachings in Mrs. Berrios class consistently come up at home as points of interest and highlights of my daughter’s school day.This teacher has my child energized, inspired and engaged in her work and this has transcended to her other classes. I see evidence that my daughter is learning how to better approach her schoolwork and I believe she’s forming habits that are going to serve her well in the academic years to come. Again, I cannot wait to meet her… and my wife and I cannot thank her enough.

  • Brian

    Does she weigh more than a duck? Well, does she?

  • 3rd period

    i am one of her students at sandy springs middle schoole and she mean to a lot of kids "thats not funny thats sad"