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LOMBARD v. SCHOOL DIST. OF ERIE

December 20, 1978

Verna LOMBARD, Plaintiff,
v.
The SCHOOL DISTRICT OF the CITY OF ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA, Edmond T. Giovannelli, John C. Harkins, Mary M. Lamary, Leonard L. Locastro, Jr., Donald A. Lundeen, Dr. A. E. Narducci, Dr. John N. Petrus, Edward J. Sparaga, Geraldine Zurn, Individually and as members of the Board of Education of the School District of the City of Erie and Richard Hilinski, Individually and as superintendent of the School District of the City of Erie, Defendants. Donna RUTHERFORD, Plaintiff, v. The SCHOOL DISTRICT OF the CITY OF ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA, Edmond T. Giovannelli, John C. Harkins, Mary M. Lamary, Leonard L. Locastro, Jr., Donald A. Lundeen, Dr. A. E. Narducci, Dr. John N. Petrus, Edward J. Sparaga, Geraldine Zurn, Individually and as members of the Board of Education of the School District of the City of Erie and Richard Hilinski, Individually and as superintendent of the School District of the City of Erie, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

The Plaintiffs in these related cases are female teachers who brought suit against the School District of the City of Erie, members of the Board of Education of Erie, and Richard Hilinski, superintendent of the Erie School District on grounds of sex discrimination. Their claims are based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 which prohibits discrimination in hiring and promotional practices on the basis of sex and under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 which prohibits retaliation against employees who have charged that their employers have discriminated against them on the basis of sex.

 The School District has employed Plaintiff Donna Rutherford as a school teacher since 1968. Rutherford was certified to serve as an elementary school principal in June 1975 and as a secondary school principal in February 1975. Since her certification as a secondary school principal, Rutherford has sought to deepen her experience and to improve her credentials for a permanent principalship by serving as a substitute principal. Shortly after she was certified as a secondary school principal, Rutherford served as a substitute principal at Wilson Jr. High School from March 10 to June 31, 1975. In August 1975, Rutherford unsuccessfully applied for a permanent position as a secondary school principal. The three available positions were given to three males, *fn1" each of whom had been certified as a principal for a period of time longer than that of Rutherford. *fn2"

 Rutherford contends that those eventually appointed received longer interviews than she did. Andrew Paykos, Assistant Supervisor of Schools, explained that Rutherford's interview was shorter because her qualifications and interest were already known. Rutherford testified that Richard Hilinski, the Superintendent of Schools, told her that she was not appointed because the "School Board would never approve a woman"; Hilinski testified, however, that he never made such a statement because he was well aware of the legal consequences, having faced considerable teachers' grievance litigation in the past.

 The interviewing team submits reports of its meeting with candidates to the Superintendent of Schools, who then recommends one of the candidates to the School Board which makes the final decision to hire or not to hire. The Superintendent's recommendation is given great weight. Mr. Hilinski testified that his recommendations to the Board were based upon the following factors, not necessarily set out in their order of importance: interview results; seniority within the District, his own subjective or professional evaluation of the candidates, oral or written evaluations of the candidate, and on the candidate's performances in other administrative positions. Hilinski testified that the three candidates who had received principalships in August 1975 had compiled in his view commendable records of substantial experience as school administrators and that it was his professional evaluation of these men, and not sex bias against Plaintiff Rutherford, which led to their appointment. Hilinski acknowledged that Rutherford was one of several competent, qualified candidates for the position.

 After learning that she would not receive one of the August 1975 appointments, Rutherford filed a charge with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Alleging retaliation, Rutherford contends that the Board did not select her to substitute as a second school principal during the 1975-1976 academic year. Rutherford served as a substitute principal for one semester during the 1976-1977 academic year and for 36 days during the 1977-1978 academic year.

 In August 1976 Rutherford applied for one of two open positions as a reading specialist. Rutherford contends these positions were eventually given to two other women out of retaliation against her for filing a sex discrimination action against the School District. Rutherford testified, however, that she was told that she was not appointed because it was anticipated that she would receive an administrative assignment in the near future. During the 1976-1977 school year, Rutherford was appointed to serve as Assistant Principal at Strong Vincent High School for the entire spring semester.

 Lombard filed charges of sex discrimination. In the 1975-1976 school year, she was asked to substitute for 25 days as an acting principal. She substituted as acting principal for 31 days in 1974-1975, and for several months in 1976-1977.

 Plaintiff Rutherford contends that the Defendants' actions give rise to three counts of sex discrimination:

 1) sex discrimination in regard to the August 1975 appointments:

 2) retaliation for her charges of sex discrimination by reducing her time as substitute principal in 1975-1976; and

 3) the appointment of others to the reading specialist positions in August 1976.

 Plaintiff Lombard contends that the Defendants' actions give rise to two ...


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