Dismissal Sought In School Board Lawsuit

BERLIN — The defendants in a civil suit filed in federal court in 2009 by a former Ocean City Elementary School (OCES) teacher, alleging a pattern of discrimination and retaliation that ultimately led to her termination, hae filed a motion to dismiss the case, alleging the non-renewal of her contract had more to do with classroom performance than her personal life.

In July 2009, former OCES teacher Lindsay Greenan filed suit in U.S. District against the Worcester County Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes, Principal Irene Cordick and Vice Principal Karen Marx alleging racial discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, retaliation and other factors that prevented her contract from being renewed for a third year of teaching at the West Ocean City school. Throughout the 16-page complaint, Greenan outlines an alleged pattern of discrimination and retaliation that began in 2007 after the teacher did not heed an alleged warning by her supervisors not to get pregnant during her first year at the school.

In the complaint, Greenan avers everything was normal and she received “glowing accolades” in her reviews prior to her announcement she was pregnant. The complaint alleges after the announcement, Greenan was subject to greater scrutiny then her colleagues at the school and her reviews were steadily less positive and increasingly hostile. Greenan also alleges she was subject to racial discrimination after she announced her engagement to her African-American boyfriend, with whom she lived in a house rented from her principal.

Last month, Judge Benson Everett Legg issued an opinion in the case, ruling favorably on some elements and unfavorably on others. In short, the judge’s opinion allowed the case to move forward although some of the claims, including the school administration’s alleged retaliation against Greenan for filing an appeal for her dismissal were denied.

In addition, the judge removed Andes as a defendant in the case after the complaint failed to prove the superintendent was aware of or approved of the alleged pattern of discrimination and harassment.

This week, the remaining defendants, the Board of Education, Kordick and Marx, filed a renewed answer to the complaint seeking a dismissal of the case on several grounds. The motion to dismiss categorically denies any allegations of racial or pregnancy discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the part of school administrators. For example, in the motion to dismiss, the defendants deny the principal’s assistant told Greenan “that Ms. Kordick did not feel it would be a good idea for her to get pregnant during her first year of teaching.”

Instead, the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case filed this week suggests it was Greenan’s classroom performance that led to the decision to not renew her contract.

“The defendants deny that she received consistently positive feedback from Kordick and other school administrators at the outset of her employment at OCES,” the motion to dismiss reads. “While some feedback was positive, on many of her observations, the plaintiff was criticized for poor pedagogical skills, inadequate planning, less than satisfactory instructional delivery and such basic derelictions as failing to post students’ BCR’s and failing to give students sufficient time to complete assigned tasks.”

The defendants also deny more stringent reviews following Greenan’s announcement of her pregnancy and engagement.

“The defendants deny that after learning of the plaintiff’s pregnancy and engagement, defendants Kordick and Marx were ‘hyper-vigilant in scrutinizing her every move and writing her up whenever they perceived an infraction, even if they could not substantiate it,’” the motion reads.