Former teacher at Uptown school sues principal, coworkers for defamation

By Annie Cosby | Oct 30, 2014


A Chicago special education teacher filed a lawsuit earlier this month, claiming she was forced to resign after the principal and coworkers falsely accused her of sitting on a student.

Leah Czuhajewski filed suit Oct. 14 in Cook County Circuit Court against Sarah Abedelal and Hector and Stephanie Sanchez, alleging defamation and civil conspiracy.

According to the complaint, Czuhajewski started working as a special education teacher at Joseph Brennemann School in August 2013.  She claims a particularly disruptive student with autism was placed in her class and the school's principal, Abedelal, wanted to remove the student, but she disagreed over whether that was best for the student.

Czuhajewski contends that Hector Sanchez, a bilingual assistant in her classroom, did not approve of her modern teaching methods and agreed with the principal, leading him to allegedly conspire with the principal to bring false allegations against her.

On Oct. 25, 2013, the suit alleges, Abedelal instructed Sanchez to contact the Department of Children and Family Services to report false accusations that Czuhajewski sat on the student in question and poked him with a pin. Czuhajewski claims they also instructed Sanchez's sister, Stephanie Sanchez, a parent working as a bus monitor at the school, to contact the student's parents with the same allegation.

Czuhajewski asserts that even though the DCFS found the charges to be unfounded, Chicago Public Schools initiated a hearing against her. She claims she was told that her future job prospects would be better if she resigned instead of going through with the hearing, spurring her to resign.

In her suit, Czuhajewski says her resignation coupled with the false accusations have caused her to be "black listed" within Chicago Public Schools.

She is seeking more than $75,000 in damages and is represented by attorneys Ethan E. White and Michael I. Leonard of Leonard Law Offices in Chicago.

Cook County Circuit Court case number: 2014L010615.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note, a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt and it represents only one side of the story.

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