Woman accuses Pittsburgh school leaders of discrimination
In the 2009-10 school year, the staff at Northview Accelerated Learning Academy was divided along racial lines, a former academy teacher claims in a federal lawsuit filed this week.
Katie LaCava, 32, who is white, said the black principal and black assistant principal, MiChele Holly and Deborah Hollis, had “particularly warm and friendly relationships” with the black paraprofessionals at the school but not with any of the white staff.
When she complained about one of those aides doing personal chores and sleeping in class instead of helping with students, Holly and Hollis retaliated by filing disciplinary actions against her and twice having school police remove LaCava from the building, the lawsuit says.
“It was only after she made a complaint about one of the individuals who, in our opinion, received favorable treatment at the school that she had any difficulty,” said Emily Town, her lawyer.
Holly gave LaCava an “unsatisfactory” rating, which left her with the choice of resigning before the end of the school year or being banned from teaching in the district again, the lawsuit says. Holly did the same to two other newly hired white teachers, the lawsuit says.
Holly, Hollis and Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane didn't return calls seeking comment. District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said the only response would come from Ira Weiss, the district's solicitor.
Weiss declined comment but confirmed that the district doesn't rehire teachers with fewer than three years of experience who end a school year with an unsatisfactory rating.
The district closed the predominantly black school more than a year ago because of declining enrollment. The school bordered the Northview Heights housing project.
Town said she has no evidence the location or racial makeup of the school had anything to do with what happened.
“I believe that the supervisors created the situation,” she said.
She said LaCava met with a school board representative but the district didn't do anything to correct the problem.
“They were certainly aware of the ongoing situation,” Town said.
LaCava is now teaching for a charter school and is seeking her lost pay and benefits, Town said.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers film session: Harrison on the field often
- Tomlin: Penalties only one factor in Steelers’ loss
- Authorities accuse South Fayette commissioner of insurance fraud
- Steelers are vowing to fix the costly penalties, lack of self-discipline
- Prosecutors float possibility of jail time for former Justice Melvin
- Body found in Allegheny River near Clemente Bridge
- No one way to fix Western Pennsylvania’s heroin problem, report says
- Neil Diamond bringing tour to Consol Energy Center
- Mental health facility won’t take Franklin Regional stabbing suspect as patient
- Paper or paper? California bans single-use plastic bags
- Fundraising under way for Indiana County newborn struck by stray bullet