Sandusky Central Catholic sued

Lawsuit claims 20-year educator terminated due to age
Alissa Widman Neese
Jul 2, 2014

widman@sanduskyregister.com

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.

Comments

JACKEL

Hmmmm ?

corey510

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal information.

Tsu Dho Nimh

This will be interesting.

WeThePeople1965

Pretty pathetic on SCCS' part.

EDIT: If a nearly 49 year old can still pound concrete in an acute care setting with no problem, then I don't see how a 45 year old can't teach.

HS Sports Fan

As a local high school sports fan and one who has followed St.Mary's athletic teams for years, I feel they did Dennis Faber a favor. He was athletic director for many great years of sports at the school. Walk away with you head up, you did an excellent job. Dennis you do not belong in this new regime anyway. There is no good that will come from this new league ect. This will only take athletics further down at St.Mary's and you do not what to be part of this. Forming a new league where St.Mary's will do the same to these teams that they claim was done to them, makes no sense to me. Congratulations with what ever you choose to do in your life from here. In my mind you are a true Panther legend.

DickTracey

Ohhh, say it ain't so! St. Mary's does not discriminate! They don't care what your age or sexuality is! Hahaha!

Where is the caring, loving, compassion and family unit that this school "PRIDEs" its self on?

WWJD? Don't ask anyone at St. Mary's, they obviously do not have a clue how to treat people.

Panther Pride! Hahaha, that place is a joke. I don't know how anyone can not feel absolute shame and embarrassment walking in and out of that place.

observer

Panther Pride? Lol...........more like Panther Pathetic!

underthebridge

Very sad to throw an experienced and devoted educator aside ...

sugar

It's not the children or the families who send their children there, it's a few on the board. They seem to have that attitude of "we rule, we are the special people". Shame, after the merger the school moved away from that, seems to have crept back in. The good families there need to speak out against the few.

Northstar

They are not listening to the families!...it is back to the chosen few only and teachers and how they want to run things. And for the record the kids loved her and she was effective. There are a few teachers who do need to go and before this school year starts or there will be a mass exit from the school of students.

Seen it All

Has it occurred to any one that perhaps she was an ineffective teacher? More experience doesn't always equal most qualified for job.

sugar

Than they should have followed a protocol with job performance reviews and or write ups on performance. They opened themselves up for a suit. Aren't there 2 lawyers on the board? Lol

Northstar

Agree Sugar! They did not and it was a slap in the face to her. Shame !

sugar

What we need is for the parishioners to VOTE for the board members.

albrooks

Parishioners do vote for board members.

Smcc Student

I had Mrs. Fredrick and she was a good teacher. However, I heard a few individuals tell similar stories about why she was not asked for those positions. According to these un-named individuals, she was going to be asked back by the president directly after she was told that her position would no longer be available, but apparently she was very rude and aggressive to the President of Smcc. Therefore melody did not ask her back, and if that is the case, neither would I!

But nobody gets to hear that side of the story register...

DickTracey

Hey student, I see you changed your post! You talked about reading the teachers Facebook posts. Why did you take that out? Because you are a Facebook friend of hers and now you are throwing her under the bus?!

You blame the teacher for getting fired, it's her fault she was rude.

Smcc Student

I accidentally deleted while editing my post. Throwing her under the bus? Dick, you are so full of hate towards this school, I don't think you are of any authority as to tell me I'm throwing someone under the bus. It is simply criticism, which is exactly what you do. Its a thread what do you expect? Now, as I said, she very well could have been unlawfully terminated because of age. However, I have been told throughout the school year otherwise. I was told she was rude, and judging by her facebook posts, I do not have trouble believing that.

If in fact she disrespected her employer, then clearly her not being awarded another contract has nothing to do with age.

On the contrary, I do believe some things were handled incorrectly. There was a member of the school that had to wait until two weeks before the school year to be told she would not be awarded the contract. If Mrs. F was waiting an extensive amount of time then I can understand where her frustration came from. However, that is no reason to be rude to her employer.

I have not put blame on anyone yet.. I was simply stating that I have heard another side of the story that the register has not reported yet.. I did not say that I even believe that story.. I was only offering it up for consideration because time after time again the register fails to do so. Instead, they cater to people like YOU, and tell YOU the story that YOU love to hear!

Not everyone is as gullible as you and immediately believes everything in the article. Most of us are smarter than that.

Edit: P.S. - We're not FB friends, I was shown a few posts from hers from someone else.

WeThePeople1965

I honestly don't think you're a student, you know a little too much and automatically appear when SMCC makes headlines. Sounds more like an advocate to cover up the arses of the board to justify rash decisions.

Smcc Student

I was a student who asked a lot of questions. I think the administrators at smcc have more important things to do than comment on a silly little internet thread.

JACKEL

What is your problem Dick ! Are you a Catholic Hater and a Lib. You know 50 million of them voted for your Bozo !They support the abortion party and march in pro life parades, that is hypocritical I must say !

Northstar

SMCC Student....Not sure if you are an adult or not, but when you get out into the work force and work that many years and have a family and a school family or workplace family. And a few days before you are supposed to go back to work your are "eliminated" ...you will feel the same pain and be upset also. It is a natural reaction.

Smcc Student

I get what you're saying. But she was not eliminated. Her position was. It would have been absurd for her not to be rehired. And from what they tell me, she was going to be immediately offered the position. But because she flipped and was disrespectful she wasn't offered it.

Once again this is just what I heard. Very well may not be the case.

Northstar

BTW...computer class is no longer on report cards. Yet they tell us they will sill have it..NOT!

corey510

.

Smcc Student

Register doing a great job at stirring up some uneducated commenters.

DickTracey

And now you blame the Register for all the bad publicity your school is getting!

Typical Catholic mentality, blame everybody else, it's always someone else's fault.

Smcc Student

Look, its working!

sugar

If your a student than you should shut the he** up because you do not have the life experience to be commenting on how a person should act when they found out they would lose their livelihood. There is a lawsuit because she was dismissed improperly, they did it all wrong, now she controls the narrative as to why. You have a lot to learn because someone sits at the top of the food chain and can hire or fire does not make them infallible. Big mistakes are being made. It's NOT the families or the kids, it those making these stupid, uncaring, controlling decisions. Now they look like fools, do not defend them.

Smcc Student

@ sugar

I'm from the outside looking in and I can from my own opinion. Her position was being eliminated but two more were being created from it. She was going to be asked back, but because She went off on melody she was asked not to return. I'm not saying the way smcc does things are perfect, timing could have been better, but there is no fault on smcc dismissing her. We will see how courts rule.

You must know something I don't. How did they do it all wrong? I'm curious to know.

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