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NEW CASTLE Court refuses to drop lawsuit



Published: Sun, January 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The school district said there was not enough information in the lawsuit to go forward.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

PITTSBURGH -- A federal court judge has denied the New Castle Area School District's request to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by a former teacher.

Leanne M. Foster of Hazelcroft Avenue claims she was passed over for a position as an assistant secondary principal because of her gender. In May 2001, she filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court asking for compensatory and punitive damages, along with an injunction that would force the district to hire her as an assistant secondary principal.

Foster taught general science and later general and advanced biology in the district from 1993 to 1999. In spring 1999, she obtained certification as a secondary principal from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Crux of suit: Her lawsuit contends she was passed over for an assistant principal's position in favor of a man who started teaching sometime after Foster.

In addition to Foster's claims of gender discrimination, she also alleges the district retaliated against her because she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The school district's attorney, John Smart of Pittsburgh, could not be reached to comment.

The decision to deny the district's attempt to have the matter dismissed was handed down by U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose on Wednesday.

Preparing for trial: William G. Cohen of New Castle, Foster's attorney, said the school district will be given a chance to respond to Ambrose's decision and then they will prepare for trial, which should occur sometime in the next year.

The district said in its motion to dismiss that there was not enough information presented in the original lawsuit to go forward with the claim against the district, Martin and the six board members. It also said that Martin and the board were not Foster's employers.

The district also argued that Foster did not include claims of retaliation in her original complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Judge Ambrose's decision denied those arguments, saying that Foster's original EEOC complaint could not have said she was retaliated against because it had not happened when the complaint was filed.

Other allegations: The lawsuit says that there were violations of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Cohen said they dropped allegations that the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law was violated because they had missed a 180-day time period set by law to report any infractions.




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