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Sandusky Central Catholic sued

Alissa Widman Neese • Jul 3, 2014 at 3:26 PM


A former Sandusky Central Catholic School teacher has filed a lawsuit against the school's education foundation, alleging officials terminated her employment because of her age.

Tracy Frederick, a 20-year employee, lost her job with the school in August 2013.

Frederick was a computer teacher for grades K-8, as well as a "lead teacher," according to a lawsuit filed June 18 in U.S. Northern District Court in Toledo. 

On Aug. 9, school officials told Frederick they eliminated her teaching position and said there were no vacant teaching positions left at the school.

At the time, however, there was one vacancy each in fourth and fifth grade, and she was qualified for those positions, according to the lawsuit. 

Instead of offering the positions to Frederick or allowing her to apply, Sandusky Central Catholic School hired two "substantially younger" teachers for the jobs, the suit alleges.

Frederick was born in 1969. 

The lawsuit claims the school and its education foundation violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

In addition, the lawsuit notes the decision's timing made Frederick unable to secure employment with another district for the 2013-14 school year. She has allegedly suffered adverse health effects, humiliation, embarrassment, loss of reputation and loss of self-esteem as a result.

Sandusky Central Catholic School awards all its employees one-year contracts.

Frederick is suing the Sandusky Central Catholic Education Foundation, doing business as Sandusky Central Catholic School, and is seeking compensation, punitive damages, liquidated damages, court costs and attorney fees.

Attorneys John D. Franklin, Kera L. Paoff and Marilyn L. Widman, based out of Toledo, will represent her.

Rev. Michael Roemmele, the school's newly appointed chancellor, and Sally Oberski, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, which includes Sandusky Central Catholic School, replied to two separate emails Tuesday, and both said they couldn't comment on the lawsuit's ongoing litigation.

Additionally, on Jan. 10, Frederick filed a charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, alleging age discrimination at Sandusky Central Catholic School.

School still mum on pay scale

Frederick's allegations come shortly after Sandusky Central Catholic School implemented a new, controversial pay scale for its teachers, effective for the upcoming school year.

The scale slices some veteran employees' salaries by 12 to 20 percent, while awarding less experienced teachers modest pay increases, according to teachers affected.

Teachers who spoke with the Register in June said they wonder if the new pay structure was designed to drive out older, more experienced teachers.

The Register did not name the teachers, who feared consequences from their employers.

School officials unveiled the new pay scale May 29, and the school's chief financial officer, Tad Windau, has yet to return a phone call and email from the Register seeking comment.

Oberski replied to an email Tuesday and said the decision to implement the pay scale was a "local decision," and the Catholic Diocese of Toledo did not impose it.

Era of uncertainty at SCCS

In addition, Frederick's lawsuit comes at a time of administrative uncertainty for Sandusky Central Catholic School.

In less than a year, the school has lost its top two administrators, and speculation is circulating throughout the Catholic community regarding longtime athletic director Dennis Faber's employment status.

Earlier this year, school officials told Faber he would not receive a contract for the 2014-15 school year, according to school employees who spoke with the Register about the pay scale issue in June.

Faber, who typically presents an athletic award during graduation, was not present at the ceremony this year.

But on Tuesday, Roemmele said the upcoming school year's contracts have not yet been determined or awarded.

The school's officials and board of directors are meeting tonight, likely to discuss Faber's status, and the Catholic Diocese of Toledo is not aware of what they will decide, Oberski said.

"Some decisions are being made, but it's entirely local," she said.

The diocese took a similar stance on the forced resignation of Sandusky Central Catholic School's band director, Brian Panetta, who lost his job in January for becoming engaged to his boyfriend of five years.

The two top administrators who left the Sandusky Central Catholic School this year, shortly after Panetta's story attracted national attention:

•Melody Curtis, the school's president as of Aug. 1, 2013, who announced her resignation in April. She is now principal of Immaculate Conception School in Bellevue.

•Mike Savona, the school's five-year principal, who announced his retirement from education this year as well.

Sandusky Central Catholic School didn't replace either position, and instead appointed Roemmele as its chancellor. It planned to hire two new principals, one for grades P-5 and one for grades 6-12, by July 1.

In early June, school officials hired alumna and renowned local educator Paula Roth as the school's P-5 principal. They have yet to announce the hiring of an additional principal.

Note: Because Sandusky Central Catholic School is a private school and not funded by tax dollars, it is not required to release financial information or employee documents to the Register.

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