School Board Seeks Dismissal Of Discrimination Lawsuit

BERLIN – The Worcester County Board of Education, the superintendent of schools and an elementary school principal and vice principal this week filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a former teacher alleging a pattern of discrimination and retaliation that ultimately led to her termination in 2009.

In July, former Ocean City Elementary School (OCES) teacher Lindsay Greenan filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Worcester County Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes, OCES Principal Irene Kordick and Vice Principal Karen Marx alleging racial discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, retaliation and other factors that led to her contract being renewed for her third year of teaching at the West Ocean City school. Throughout the 16-page complaint, Greenan outlines a pattern of discrimination and retaliation that allegedly began in 2007 for not heeding her principal’s alleged warning not to get pregnant during her first year at the school.

This week, the defendants in the federal suit, the Board of Education, Andes, Kordick and Marx, filed a formal motion to dismiss the case on several grounds. The motions point out several grounds for dismissal including a lack of evidence suggesting the any discrimination or retaliation by the school’s administration including Kordick and her staffers. The motion also suggests even if there was evidence of discrimination or retaliation, it was not connected in any way to the School Board’s ultimate decision not to renew Greenan’s contract for employment.

The formal complaint was filed in July after Greenan got a favorable report on a formal complaint filed last October with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which reviewed Greenan’s complaint outlining the alleged pattern of discrimination and retaliation and rendered an opinion that provided the catalyst for the lawsuit.

“Ms. Greenan was denied contract renewal and a tenured teaching position by Worcester after a two-year probationary employment period,” the complaint filed this week reads. “The adverse employment actions were taken in retaliation for Ms. Greenan failing to heed Ms. Kordick’s warning that Ms. Greenan not become pregnant during her first year of teaching at OCES. The pregnancy-related discrimination and retaliation was exacerbated by the fact that the father of Ms. Greenan’s child is African-American.”

According to the facts spelled out in the complaint, Greenan joined OCES in June 2007 after a stint at an elementary school in Dorchester County. Greenan and her fiancé rented a house from Kordick to allow their daughter to attend OCES. She started teaching at the beginning of the 2007 school year and everything was reportedly going well until she told school officials in December of that year she was pregnant.

In 16-page formal complaint, Greenan’s attorney outlines an alleged pattern of mistreatment, scrutiny and observation apart from the normal routine afforded other teachers in the school. In the complaint, Greenan alleges her “persecution seemed designed to humiliate and depersonalize me.”

According to the complaint, after Greenan told her supervisors she had become pregnant, things started to deteriorate quickly for her at OCES, according to the complaint.

“After announcing her pregnancy, Ms. Kordick and Ms. Marx became hyper-vigilant in scrutinizing Ms. Greenan’s every move and disciplining her whenever they perceived an infraction, even if they could not substantiate it,” the complaint reads.

In April 2009, Greenan allegedly received a letter from Andes informing her Kordick had recommended her contract not be renewed. Greenan appealed to the board, and after a hearing, the board issued a decision to uphold the non-renewal.

“Ms. Greenan has not satisfied her burden to show that the decision to not renew her probationary contract was illegal,” the school board’s opinion upholding Andes’ decision reads. “Certainly, she has failed to produce any evidence that the superintendent’s decision was based upon any consideration of the race of her husband, her pregnancy in 2007-2008, or her landlord-tenant relationship with Principal Kordick.”

One section of the complaint points to a comment Kordick allegedly made about damage to the home she rented to Greenan and her fiancé being caused by a basketball, a reference Greenan used to illustrate the racial tenor of her relationship to the principal.

“The complaint is woefully short of evidence linking a racial motive to any employment decision made against the plaintiff,” the defense’s motion reads. “The complaint asserts a single comment by the defendant about a basketball causing damage to a rental home from which the plaintiff would have the court conclude that the defendant disapproved of her marriage to an African-American. There is no specific claim that race played a role in any decisions affecting the plaintiff, much less and adverse actions. … the complaint fails to demonstrate any facts which suggest racial animus based on the plaintif’s relationship with an African-American, much less evidence linking that animus to any adverse employment action against the plaintiff.”

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