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GIRARD Principal's lawyer threatens school board with legal action



Published: Wed, July 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The principal was the first administrator to alert parents of problems at the Intermediate School.

GIRARD -- An attorney for the former Girard Intermediate School principal is threatening legal action, saying the school board demoted his client without due cause and breached his contract.

The board moved Robert Foley from his intermediate school post to junior high school principal, prompting the ire of several parents who have said that Foley was the first administrator to alert parents that Intermediate school children were becoming ill.

School closing: The school closed May 1 because of pupil, staff and teacher illnesses. A report from an environmental company listed mold and fungus in the carpet and a poor ventilation system. The district is replacing the carpeting.

Atty. Don L. Hanni Jr., who represents Foley, said the move constitutes a breach of a June 1999 contract between his client and the board.

"To say nothing of the fact that the parents, teachers and students have indicated quite loudly that they are not in favor of the demotion," Hanni wrote in a July 20 letter to the board.

Board members declined to respond today, saying they don't deal publicly with personnel matters.

Holly Hunkus, vice chairwoman of Girard Concerned Parents, presented petitions to school board members at a meeting Tuesday night, regarding Foley's move and asking the board to reconsider.

Foley, intermediate principal for 23 years, wants to complete his time with the school district in that position and retire at the end of the 2004-2005 school year.

"He does not desire an adversary relationship with the board, however, unless we receive prompt and remedial action to the breach and cessation of retaliatory and defamatory conduct" Hanni will "reluctantly seek a resolution of these disputes in court," the letter said.

Performance report: Foley's demotion followed a performance evaluation from Superintendent Anthony D'Ambrosio, which criticized the principal for his inability to control his teachers' conduct and for covering up for teachers who didn't perform. That contrasts with previous evaluations of Foley, all of which were positive, Hanni said in his letter to the board.

"However, in the past Superintendent D'Ambrosio did not need to deflect blame for failing to inform the students and their parents of an impending health crisis for a new building under his supervision," Hanni wrote.

Foley hasn't done anything that "would be considered careless, disloyal and nonsupportive" of any school system rules, regulations of goals "and I defy the board to prove such a violation," Hanni said.




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