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GIRARD SCHOOLS Judge: Lawsuit should be heard in state court



Published: Thu, August 23, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A hearing will be conducted Friday to determine if the school board should be prohibited from reopening Prospect Elementary School.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that that a $30 million suit filed by about 50 parents whose children attend Prospect Elementary School in Girard should be heard in state court.

Judge Dan Polster of U.S. District Court in Akron remanded the lawsuit one day after attorneys representing the Girard Board of Education asked the federal court to take the case. Judge Polster ruled that the case dealt mainly with state law issues and should be heard in a state court. He didn't specify the issues.

Federal court cases usually deal with constitutional issues, court officials said.

Lawyers sought originally to have the parents' case heard in federal court because another suit filed by Girard's intermediate school principal had previously been sent there.

Robert Foley contends in his suit that the school board violated his civil rights by assigning him to the junior high school in retaliation for his speaking out about staff and student illnesses at the intermediate school.

Since the suits are related, lawyers said they should be heard by the same court. Foley's case remains in federal court awaiting a decision by the judge on whether he will hear it.

Judge Peter Kontos of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court said that because the case has been sent back to his court, he will have a hearing on the matter at 9 a.m. Friday.

About the lawsuit: The suit, which was filed earlier this month, contends that the school has health problems because it is connected to the intermediate school.

The suit asks a judge to order that the school be closed when classes resume in the district next week. Parents said they want their children to go to a different school.

The Ohio Department of Health, however, stated earlier this week that the school is safe to open.

Both Girard Intermediate and Prospects schools were closed May 1 by the board, but Prospect reopened three days later.

The intermediate school will remain closed when school begins Tuesday, school officials said. They have not said when the school will reopen.

Several parents also filed a lawsuit last week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court asking that the board members be removed because they didn't inform parents of the reported health problems at the school.

A pretrial hearing on that suit is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the courtroom of Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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