TribLIVE

| Neighborhoods

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Former Penn-Trafford teacher refiles lawsuit

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Chris Foreman
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

A former high school Spanish teacher has renewed her “whistle-blower” lawsuit against the Penn-Trafford School District in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court after a federal judge declined to put a similar case on a trial list.

Judith Bielewicz is suing the district, high school Principal Scott Inglese, former Superintendent Deborah Kolonay and former Assistant Superintendent Harry Smith.

Bielewicz's new lawsuit, filed last week, stems from her March 2010 suspension for failing to adhere to a performance-improvement plan. The suspension came after she confronted Inglese about the removal of a struggling student from her classroom.

Bielewicz said in the lawsuit that the student's transfer wasn't done in accordance with school policy.

Superintendent Thomas Butler declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Bielewicz's complaint — which says that the district violated her rights under the state's whistle-blower law — is similar to a suit she filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in September 2010.

District Judge Terrence McVerry ruled in March that the whistle-blower complaint should be heard by a state court. McVerry also accepted a magistrate's recommendation that another allegation — that the district violated Bielewicz's First Amendment rights — should be dismissed because Bielewicz's confronting of Inglese was related to her role as a teacher, not as a public citizen.

Both of Bielewicz's lawsuits have referenced other incidents in which she said she was forced to change students' grades arbitrarily, allow plagiarized reports to be rewritten and allow a student caught with a cheat sheet during a project to redo the work.

Neither complaint lists any specifics for any of those alleged incidents.

In a deposition in the federal case, Inglese said a parent of the student removed from Bielewicz's class said that Bielewicz accused the student of cheating in front of the class and refused to help her.

Christina Lane, an attorney for the district, argued in federal court that Bielewicz's whistle-blower complaint failed to meet the qualifications for the statute and was filed after the 180-day window from the time of the incident.

The case was assigned to Judge Gary Caruso.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Penn-Trafford

  1. Re-enactors to help mark anniversary of Battle of Bushy Run
  2. Penn-Trafford volunteers welcome waiving of background check fees
  3. Penn Township housing plan gains commissioners’ approval
  4. Unexpected storm water project to cost Manor $20,000
  5. New transformer to be installed at Municipal Park
  6. Penn-Trafford High School library to be open to start new school year