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Ringgold School District facing second lawsuit

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Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010

A former teacher has sued the Ringgold School District for a second time.

The latest legal action alleges the district and high school Principal Dwayne Homa subjected Kathleen Pitzer to age discrimination and retaliation.

Pitzer, through Pittsburgh attorney Joel S. Sansone, filed the complaint Nov. 23 in federal court in Pittsburgh.

Pitzer, an Eighty Four resident, indicated she filed a similar suit against the district and Homa, alleging various acts of harassment and discrimination based upon her age.

The suit claims that, "In August 2007, Pitzer was required to take sabbatical leave as a direct result of the conduct described in her original complaint, and the effect which that conduct had on (Pitzer's) emotional, mental and physical health. The sabbatical lasted until her return to work beginning on or about August 16, 2009.

"On or about January 2, 2009, the original complaint was voluntarily settled and discontinued," the suit contended.

The suit alleges that after Pitzer returned to work, she continued to be subjected to discrimination and retaliation by the district and Homa.

The suit contends Pitzer was denied a regular classroom assignment; was not permitted to teach an advanced mathematics course which she was qualified to do; and was relegated to a limited teaching assignment that decreased her responsibilities.

The suit states, "Moreover, (Pitzer) was subjected to excessive scrutiny in her assignment as a math instructor. Other teachers were not subjected to excessive scrutiny. Specifically, (Pitzer) was investigated for an incident which occurred in one of her classrooms.

"Although this incident involves a relative minor set of circumstances, the investigation undertaken by the defendant was far greater in scope and effort than any investigation of any actions by any similarly situated faculty member of the defendant in the entire relevant history of the school district.

"(Pitzer), as well as union representatives, is of the opinion that, because an investigation of this magnitude has never been undertaken, the investigation was motivated by a desire on the part of the school district to retaliate against (Pitzer) based upon her earlier charge and complaint. ..."

Pitzer is asking for wages and other benefits lost due to her "termination," along with interest.

She also wants to be reinstated to the position she would have held before being discriminated against, including seniority and fringe benefits, the suit states.

Ringgold Superintendent Gary Hamilton said Pitzer resigned from her position.

Hamilton said he was aware of the lawsuit, but declined to comment on it.

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