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Allegheny

West Mifflin schools superintendent files federal lawsuit against district, school board members

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 4:21 p.m.
Daniel Castagna
Daniel Castagna

The West Mifflin School District superintendent has sued the district and six school board members in federal court, claiming retaliation and discrimination, federal court records show.

Daniel Castagna, who has been with the district since 2007 and served as superintendent since 2011, alleged in the lawsuit filed Monday that the school board’s decision to place him on unpaid leave last week was politically motivated.

The board members named in the lawsuit are board president David Marshall, vice president Anthony DiCenzo, Nicholas Alexandroff, Debbie Kostelnick, Stephen Kovac and Erin O’Leary White.

The district’s solicitor did not respond to a request for comment.

Castagna began a two-week medical leave for a non work-related injury Jan. 10, and the school board voted Jan. 19 to place him on paid administrative leave. He alleged that the board members who voted in favor of placing him on leave gave no “notice, warning or rationale” regarding the decision.

Castagna was charged in September with driving under the influence and traffic violations by state police in Beaver County. He was formally arraigned on those charges Jan. 31. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for next month.

He’d remained on paid leave through July 2, at which point the board members named in the lawsuit voted to place Castagna on unpaid leave.

The lawsuit claims the decision to place him on paid – and later unpaid – leave was retaliation for failing to support the political leanings of those six board members. Castagna also cited several instances in which he investigated allegations of theft against several district employees that led to their firings. He said those who were fired often aligned politically with the board members named in the suit.

Castagna said the alleged retaliation also stems from an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint he filed in December 2017 in which he complained that board members were “engaging in employment discrimination.”

The lawsuit alleges violations of Castagna’s First Amendment rights, violations to the state Whistleblower Law and breach of contract, claiming the district failed to make proper payments as outlined in his contract. He also said his contract does not specify that the district has the right to place him on leave.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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