Tracey Hiss sues Perkins Schools

Former teacher, track coach alleges district discriminated, denied her due process
Alissa Widman Neese
May 30, 2014

widman@sanduskyregister.com

Tracey Hiss has taken her recent firing to federal court.

The former Perkins Schools employee alleges her May 14 termination stems from gender discrimination, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. Northern District Court in Toledo.

Hiss is demanding $2.5 million in damages, back pay, legal fees and an annulment of her termination.

This past year, Perkins school board members suspended Hiss for allegedly distributing prescription-strength pain relief patches to a handful of high school students in May 2013.

She pleaded no contest in December to possession of a dangerous drug, and "vehemently denies" the claims, the lawsuit states.

Hiss, a 25-year girls track coach and a 19-year health teacher, contends district officials handled her investigation differently than a similar incident involving a male coach.

In 2012, Travis Crabtree, a wrestling coach, allegedly offered a student a prescription painkiller and retained his job with Perkins Schools. He received only a three-match suspension after athletic director Michael Strohl conducted an internal investigation. 

Meanwhile, Perkins Schools officials turned over Hiss' case to Perkins police.

Included in Hiss' lawsuit is a recent letter from superintendent Jim Gunner, detailing 13 drug-related violations Hiss allegedly committed from 2011 to 2013. He does not provide evidence to support the allegations, "only hearsay," the lawsuit states.

District officials did not record any of the incidents in Hiss' personnel file and did not address the concerns until this year.

"What we see here is a pattern of due process failures going back to 2011," the lawsuit states. "(Perkins Schools) has committed a 'pattern' of unprofessional conduct against Coach Hiss to 'pile on' fallacies to justify the difference in prosecution between Coach Hiss and Travis Crabtree."

Defendants listed in the suit are Gunner, Strohl and Briar Middle School principal Steven Finn, as well as the district's five current school board members.

Gunner, the district's spokesman, did not return a phone message Thursday night seeking comment.

Hiss' lawsuit is now the third pending case against Perkins Schools. 

Former teacher Carol Smith, 72, filed a suit in 2011 alleging officials discriminated against her age and medical conditions after board members fired her for allegedly falling asleep during classes.

Linda and Patrick Waters, parents of two former Perkins Schools students, then filed a suit in 2012, claiming school officials did nothing to stop two years of racially charged bullying their young sons endured.

Read the entire lawsuit in the PDF file below.

Comments

Perkins Resident

This will be interesting.

Stop It

mikey?

mikeylikesit

if she wins, with that kind of money, she can afford somebody younger than me..

Stop It

lol...

whattheBucks

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

jl0419

I think she may have a case here.

underthebridge

Isn't this the 3rd time that Steve Finn has been named in a lawsuit?

sash

Doesn't mean much. Anytime you are in a position of authority or management, you're going to get tagged, in any lawsuits, in any industry.

underthebridge

I'd agree if this were a large corporation. It isn't. I'd also agree if the litigation involved different matters. They don't. Furthermore, what other similarly sized school district in the area has 3 discrimination lawsuits against them? There are none.

sash

If the suits were alike, you'd have a pattern, but they're not. One of the suits is a teacher who kept falling asleep in class and is claiming discrimination because of her age and medical condition and the other is basically a bullying suit. You can slap the label of discrimination on just about anything, but it doesn't make them alike.

Babo

All the suits involve denial of due process and equal protection of the law. There's your pattern.

goodtime1212

Imagine that, Mr. Gunner and the BOE miss managed something other then money, glad we voted no. still no trust.

Perkins Resident

When's the next levy vote?

DickTracey

Don't forget the male Perkins bus driver, that got busted on domestic violence, yet he got to keep his job!

And that same Perkins bus driver assaults a man while highly intoxicated, and Perkins hires him back!

It sure looks like Perkins Schools let men get away with a lot.

Peachy Keen

Yes, but I remember back in the 1990's when the female principal at Meadowlawn School had an extramarital affair with the male gym teacher, even allowing him to sleep at the school overnight if he didn't want to go home. It was so obvious what was going on that even the kids knew something was going on between the 2 of them. SHE kept her job despite her behavior and, if I recall right, he was only transferred to another building. I always felt that if she had been a MALE principal, she would have been fired!

DickTracey

I remember that! My kid saw them kissing!! He came running in from school and said, "we saw Mrs. **** kissing Mr. **** in the gym!!!"

Try explaining that to a ten year old!!!

LookingDown

OK, not saying I'm for dv, but what does that have to do with driving a bus?

candleburner

She was making $2.5 mil? No wonder Perkins School district has a problem passing their levies!

Common Sense

As for Perkins Schools handling her investigation differently than that of a male coach, it is because there may be more to both stories. Until we know all the information concerning both cases, we should not be judging Ms. Hiss, Perkins Public Schools, or its staff.

Goble101

What is different is that Crabtree and Strohl are buddies. They're both coaches on the same VFW team, etc.

Common Sense

Although your statement about coaching is correct, there's more to this story that will never come out to the public.

Unassumer

What amazes me is that each case seems to be handled differently and not equitably. I hope she wins.

sash

It was my understanding that Crabtree had given the med to a student and then had second thoughts about the appropriatenes and informed Strohl about what had occured. Both involve prescriptions, but I think there is a big difference between a single mistake voluntarily acknowledged and a string of "mistakes" where the teacher denies responsibility and even accuses students of stealing. I would have handled the situations differently and that has nothing to do with the gender of the offenders.

Babo

Except that an orally taken controlled substance is a far more serious violation of law and endangers the athlete far more than externally applied lidocaine patches that can be purchased in lower strengths over the counter.

sandtown born a...

Agreed

Wald

Except that Hiss didn't give her girls lower-strength lidocaine that can be purchased over the counter. She gave them higher-dose patches obtained through a prescription.

Babo

And you know these facts to be true as a result of a hearing where the students making the allegations testified and were challenged?

Also, these patches are topically applied and can be removed anytime by the athlete as opposed to a controlled substance that is swallowed and can irreparably harm someone.

Finally who was supplying the prescription strength patches in 2011-2012 at the time of most of the incidents.

LookingDown

Would be nice but she won't talk! I'd be mad as crap if it was my kid she gave anything to

whattheBucks

And she still continues to lie about it to this day !!

eriemom

There is another case pending. The pattern show bias.

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