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GIRARD SCHOOLS Official's hearing is delayed



Published: Fri, August 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Today's common pleas court hearing has been canceled.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A former Girard Intermediate School principal will have to wait a while longer before he finds out if he will be moved to the junior high.

Robert Foley's hearing scheduled for today in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court has been canceled because attorneys for the board of education filed a motion Thursday to have the case moved to U.S. District Court in Youngstown.

According to the motion, the board believes the case should be heard in federal court because Foley contends in his lawsuit that the board violated his constitutional rights.

Allegation: Attorneys representing Foley say the principal was transferred in retaliation because he informed parents about health problems at Girard Intermediate School.

Foley wanted the hearing today in hopes of persuading a judge to order the board to halt his transfer to the junior high.

Attorney Sebastian Rucci, who represents Foley, said he is not disappointed by the delay.

"I am tickled that it's been moved to federal court," Rucci said. "When we were getting ready to file the suit, we discussed whether to file in state or federal court. We chose the state court, but federal court is just fine with me."

Attorney John Pfau, who is representing the board, could not be reached.

Court officials said a federal judge can either decide to accept the case or have it sent to state court.

Foley filed the lawsuit last month, seeking more than $2 million. The suit states that Foley was transferred against his will.

Officials' response: Board officials say state law allows the superintendent to assign administrators to positions where they are needed.

Officials note that Foley's move was not a punishment or a demotion and that Foley received his regular pay last year plus a bonus.

Rucci, however, says the board moved Foley because Foley sent a letter March 26 to parents about the school's condition.

The school closed May 1 because of pupil, staff and teacher illnesses. A report from an environmental company listed mold and fungus in the carpeting and a poor ventilation system as the cause of the sicknesses.

The district is replacing the carpeting and doing other work to correct the problem.

Foley has been intermediate principal eight years. He served as junior high school principal from 1986 through 1993.




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