Teachers at an elite East Hampton private school served whiskey to students on a group trip to South America last year — and later bullied and threatened a teen who was uncomfortable with the boozing, according to a new $10 million lawsuit.
Hayden Soloviev, the son of real estate magnate Stefan Soloviev, claims he was forced to unenroll from the Ross School for his senior year over the abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of teachers chaperoning the March 2020 trip to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Patagonia.
“Hayden’s suffering knew, and knows, no boundaries,” the filing states. “These events indelibly changed the course of his life.”
The suit, filed Monday in Suffolk County Supreme Court, alleges that some of the chaperones even threatened Soloviev “without any justification,” into giving up control of a school-approved Instagram account he’d set up to document the excursion.
That allegedly occurred two days after a glacier tour where the four teachers had asked guides to switch out water being served to students with whiskey — despite the fact that the kids were minors, the filing states.
One of the educators even allegedly led a toast with the underage kids, where everyone shouted, “what happens on the glacier stays on the glacier.”
Soloviev, then a junior, was “extremely uncomfortable” about the drinking and did not participate, the suit states. The teachers also allegedly “discouraged” the kids from telling anyone about the booze, including their parents.
Soloviev claims that two of the chaperones later burst into his room and demanded he hand over the Instagram account. When he did not “instantly comply,” the suit said, one of the teachers, Christopher Maddalone, allegedly began to “bully, threaten and verbally abuse” the teen.
Maddalone and another teacher, Daniel Donovan, also threatened to give Soloviev failing grades in their respective classes if he didn’t comply, so he eventually did, he claims in the suit. The project was handed over to other students, one of whom happened to be Maddalone’s son.
When the teen complained and suggested going to the head of school, the teacher allegedly agreed to give back the Instagram account, “on condition that Hayden not contact the Ross School.”
Soloviev felt so uncomfortable that he left the trip early and reported the conduct to the Ross School administration, according to the filing.
“Thereafter, the Ross School’s administration never advised Hayden or his parents of the outcome of its investigation and refused to respond to any of their inquiries,” the suit states.
“As a result, Hayden felt so unsafe where he had already been victimized by one teacher and then made to feel ostracized by others, that he unenrolled from the Ross School in advance of his last year of high school.”
Soloviev had attended the school — which counts Scott Disick and Alexa Ray Joel, the daughter of singer Billy Joel and model Christie Brinkley, among its famous alumni — since 6th grade, with his parents shelling out an estimated $300,000 over the course of his five years there, the suit states.
The teen and his dad, one of America’s largest landowners, are suing the school for damages, alleging several causes of action including negligence in hiring and breach of trust and duty to warn.
Glenn Spiegel of Becker & Poliakoff, an attorney representing the Solovievs, said that through their lawsuit, the family “seeks to address the systemic failure by the Ross School to ensure the safety and well being of Hayden and other students in their care.”
The school, which costs approximately $80,830 a year for boarding students and around $44,910 for day students, said it was aware of the Soloviev’s claims.
“While the School takes seriously any assertion of misconduct — whether it by students, teachers, or administrators — we are confident that the Solviev’s claims of damages in this case are without merit,” it said in a statement.
“Far from being ‘forced to unenroll’ at the Ross School, Hayden Soloviev and his father freely elected to have him attend East Hampton High School for his senior year,” the school added. “We understand that Hayden intends to begin college in the fall, and we wish him every continued success.”