Monday, February 16, 2015

Present and recent lawsuits against the Deptford Board of Education.



By way of an Open Public Record Act (OPRA) request, I learned about the following lawsuits that have recently been filed against the Deptford Township (Gloucester County) Board of Education.  I decided to post them on-line as a public service.  On the settled cases, I have submitted OPRA requests for the settlement agreements and will update this blog entry upon their receipt.  On Berglund's case, I have submitted an OPRA request to identify which Board of Education member allegedly retaliated against Berlund for disciplining the fiancĂ© of her sister, who worked for the Board.  See my update here.

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Caption: Walter Berglund v. Stacy Gray, Rachel Green, Linda Rosser and the Deptford Board of Education, Federal case no. 1:14-cv-01972. The lawsuit is on-line here.

Summary:  Plaintiff Berglund served as president of the Board of Education until he resigned on May 23, 2012 and was hired by the Board as Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds on December 3, 2012.  He said that Gray, Green and Rosser, who are also on the Board of Education, posited that was undeserving of his new job because he got it because of his "political associations" rather than merit.

Berglund said he attempted disciplined an employee who lived with and was engaged to the sister of Gray, Green or Rosser (the lawsuit does not specify which).  The employee, who was allegedly guilty of neglect of duty, insubordination and conduct and unbecoming a public employee, reportedly said that "I'm just here to collect a paycheck" and "I'll never be supervised by a white person."

Berglund said that on the same day he suspended the employee, Rosser made a motion during the public portion of the Board meeting to replace him with another employee.  Berglund said that Gray, Green and Rosser all voted in favor of a January 28, 2014 motion to discharge him.

Status: Active.  An amended complaint was filed on October 23, 2014, on-line here.

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Caption: Lee Ann Ayres, Susan Baresich, Paulette Conn, Ismael Franaui, Karen Freundlich, Lillian Palladino, Amanda Riddell-Tessein, Rodney Smyth, Susan Teti, Susan Tomlinson, Nicole Vinci, Carleen Wilson, Karen Wood, the Estate of Nancy Powell, et al v. Deptford Board of Education, Docket No. GLO-L-1141-14.  The lawsuit is on-line here.

Summary:  District employees complained that they were enrolled in the Defined Contribution Retirement Program on June 11, 2013 even though they were eligible for enrollment at earlier dates.

Status: Active.

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Caption: Cynthia Davis v. Deptford Board of Education and Arthur Dietz, Docket No. GLO-L-1215-13. The lawsuit is on-line here.

Summary:  Davis, a school nurse, said that she was defamed by school principal Dietz, who accused her of endangering the life of a student who came to her after suffering a routine allergic reaction.  She also claimed that the Board used Dietz's untrue statements as a pretext for firing her.

Status: Settled on February 20, 2014.  Settlement agreement on-line here.  Davis received $4,000, promised not to seek re-employment and to keep the settlement agreement confidential.

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Caption: Marc A. Lopez v. Deptford Board of Education, Docket No. GLO-L-2175-11.  The lawsuit is on-line here.

Summary: Gay high school Spanish teacher said he suffered severe and pervasive harassment due to his sexual orientation, that school administrators did nothing to address it and ultimately used his sexual orientation or his complaints as a basis for firing him.

Status:  Case settled in March 2013 for $190,000.  Click here.

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Caption: Lisa Schwinge v. Deptford Board of Education and Joseph Collins, Docket No. GLO-L-1842-09. The lawsuit is on-line here.

Summary:  Plaintiff claimed that Collins and school administrators unlawfully failed to renew her contract because she was pregnant and missed work because of jury duty.

Status:  Case settled in July 2012 for $65,000 (click here) and Schwinge agreed to keep the settlement confidential.

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Caption: Bonnie Stanton v. Deptford Board of Education, Federal case  No. 1:11-cv-02525. The lawsuit is on-line here.

Summary: Plaintiff alleges that she was fired because she missed work due to knee surgery.

Status: Settled in June 2013 for $5,000 (click here).  Stanton signed a confidentiality agreement.

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Caption: Franco Colamarco v. Deptford Board of Education, Federal case  No. 1:12-cv-07302.  The lawsuit is on-line here.

Summary:  Plaintiff, a high school vice principal, claimed that he was unfairly demoted to teacher because he missed worked because of a herniated disk in his back.  Principal Gary Loudenslager allegedly told him that he would not recommend his rehire as vice principal.  He also alleged that his supervisors' discriminated against him on the basis of gender when Melvin Allen stated that he preferred that a female be hired rather than Colamarco.

Status: Settled on November 15, 2013.  Settlement agreement is on-line here.