This webpage consolidates SCHOOL TEACHER and SCHOOL EMPLOYEE cases which are scattered in the appropriate "topic" sections throughout our two sister websites. We have attempted to separate the cases into PATRIOTISM, HOLIDAYS-BIRTHDAYS, ASSAULTS, CLAIMS OF DISCRIMINATION, and MISCELLANEOUS sections, but there will always be some bleed-over. Cases are in descending chronological order by section.
CONTROVERSIAL SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
(1.) FEMALE, (2.) AFRICAN-AMERICAN, (3.) JEHOVAH'S WITNESS
"SHE AIN'T GOING NOWHERE"
In 2009, an African-American, female Jehovah's Witness named Greta Hawkins was hired as the PRINCIPAL at Brooklyn's PS90 Edna Cohen School -- apparently for as long as she desires. We don't know how things went that first year, but in June 2010, after the first staff meeting held prior to the start of the 2010-11 school year, fourteen "white" and "Jewish" staffers filed complaints with the Department of Education's Office of Equal Opportunity. Those 14 staffers alleged that Greta Hawkins made a series of "racist" remarks about the school and the school's previous Jewish Principal. Hawkins purportedly told her staffers, "I'm a BLACK JEHOVAH'S WITNESS -- NOT A WHITE JEW!!! More of US are coming!!!" After an investigation, the DOE issued a "reprimand" to Hawkins, and required her to attend extra training at the OEO, for "deliberately differentiating herself, a black Jehovah’s Witness, and the previous principal, white and Jewish ... ."
It was not until the end of the 2011-12 school year, in June 2012, that the media reported that at various times during her first three years at PS90 that Greta Hawkins allegedly had attempted to do away with the recitation of the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCEand all singing of the song, AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.
Those allegations surfaced during the June 2012 uproar which occurred after Greta Hawkins eliminated a display of patriotism which had traditionally been part of kindergarten graduation ceremonies. One class had traditionally sang the song, GOD BLESS THE U.S.A. (Lee Greenwood classic), while all waving American Flags. Greta Hawkins allegedly stated that the words to GOD BLESS THE U.S.A. are OFFENSIVE to people from other countries, so Hawkins decided to replace the traditional patriotic ceremony with the singing of the song, THE WORLD IS A RAINBOW.
Greta Hawkins reportedly finally succeeded in eliminating any future singing of AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL by the start of the 2013-14 school year, in September 2013. Eliminating the recitation of the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE is yet to be achieved.
In March 2014, staffers at PS90 accused Principal Hawkins of altering annual confidential performance surveys completed by the parents of PS90 students. Hawkins was alleged to have encouraged parents to return the completed forms to the school rather than mailing them themselves in exchange for two "NO HOMEWORK" passes for their children. Later, staffers allege that Hawkins had an assistant break open the sealed envelopes and tamper with the survey's answers. In April 2014, after an investigation by theDOE, new survey forms were distributed to PS90 parents, who were instructed to mail the forms themselves, but nothing was done to Hawkins.
In June 2014, the pre-K teachers at PS90 had another planned patriotic display canceled by Principal Hawkins. This time, the pre-K teachers had been rehearsing their classes to sing the song, STAND UP FOR THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE, while marching into their graduation ceremony and waving American Flags. Hawkins KILLED the patriotic ceremony on the lame excuse that she had not pre-approved it -- which is not a reason at all. When the teachers then requested that their students still be permitted to carry their American Flags, Greta Hawkins reportedly also refused to allow that because the American Flags were"unapproved materials".
What is even more unbelievable is the fact that the City of New York's DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION has stood behind Greta Hawkins on all of her KILL SHOTS at "patriotism". It was only on the one occasion when Hawkins made the mistake of openly making her racist remarks to a crowd of "witnesses" that the DOE gave Hawkins a slap on the wrist. Hawkins' unnamed "Assistant Principal" also stands behind Hawkins.
When Greta Hawkins was hired as the Principal at PS90, the school reportedly had a state-of-the-art computer lab, and a library, and a music program. Hawkins shut down all three. Google "Greta Hawkins" to read other accusations -- including that Hawkins bloodied one male student's lip while snatching away his cellphone, and that Hawkins has "lied" to have opposing staffers removed from PS90.
CHARLOTTE GRIFFIN v. SCOTTSDALE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT was a 2005-07 Arizona federal court case. A 72 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Charlotte E. Griffin, was employed as a teacher's aid in 2002. After a series of "incidents", Charlotte Griffin was fired in 2004. In 2005, Griffen filed this employment discrimination lawsuit against the school district, in which she alleged religious and age discrimination.
Griffen began her employment in the classroom of teacher Judy Chamberlin, at Pueblo Elementary School, during the 2002-2003 school year. Griffen alleged that Chamberlin harassed her, on the basis of age, in January 2003, by stating that "even bus drivers know when to retire". Griffen also alleged that Chamberlin harassed her, on the basis of religion, when Chamberlin explained to the class that Griffen would not sign a birthday card because she did not celebrate birthdays. After Griffen filed formal complaints against Chamberlin, Griffen was re-assigned to work in the library. The school district conducted an investigation, and determined that Chamberlin had not meant to offend. However, Chamberlin was formally reminded of the school system's anti-discrimination policies. Interestingly, Chamberlin chose to retire at the end of the school year.
At the beginning of 2003-2004 school year, Charlotte Griffin was assigned to the classroom of teacher Jennifer Henderson at Pueblo Elementary School. Griffen also alleged that Henderson harassed her, on the basis of religion, when Henderson asked Griffen to share her religion with the class.
In Summer 2004, Griffen was assigned to a position at Cherokee Elementary School, where Griffen worked with special education teacher Patti Geninatti, and resource center teacher Mary Cree. Griffen also alleged that Cree harassed her in August or September 2004, on the basis of religion, when Cree tried to convince Griffen to wear a voting pin and vote in a local election. Griffen claimed that she "had to get real frank with them and tell them it was against my religion".
Griffen’s job with Patti Geninatti generally consisted of working with an autistic boy on a one-to-one basis. In August 2004, the boy’s mother complained that her child had wandered off while under Griffen’s care. In September 2004, Griffen received a performance evaluation that reflected the need for improvement in, among other areas, keeping track of children on the playground. Griffen received improvement plans with instructions to focus on special needs children, and understood that lack of progress could lead to her termination. Subsequently, the school received a complaint from the father of the boy that on September 22, 2004, Griffen again failed to supervise the child at the end of the school day, by allowing him to walk out of the school unaccompanied.
Griffen was placed on administrative leave. An investigation concluded that Griffen had failed to supervise the student on at least two occasions. At a pre-termination meeting, it was concluded that Griffen had failed to supervise the student properly and that termination was warranted. Griffen filed a grievance regarding her termination. The school reviewed the matter, upheld the decision, and terminated Griffen’s employment on November 8, 2004. Griffen appealed her termination to Lois Healey, Special Education Services Administrator, who upheld the termination.
In December 2004, Griffen filed a charge of discrimination with the Arizona Civil Rights Division. The ACRD dismissed Griffen's discrimination charges after conducting its own investigation. Griffen filed this federal lawsuit in June 2005. Count One of the Complaint alleged religious discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Count Two alleged a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, for "revealing and alluding to the plaintiff’s age by engaging in offensive comments and direct disparagement". In February 2007, the USDC granted the school system's motion for summary judgment, stating in part:
"Defendant asserts that it terminated Plaintiff for failing to observe safe work practices after Plaintiff failed to supervise the autistic student she was assigned to watch. ... Defendant has presented substantial evidence in support of this legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. ... Plaintiff has failed to provide specific and substantial evidence that Defendant’s stated reason for her termination is unworthy of credence. ... ... ..."The Court concludes that no reasonable jury could find that Plaintiff was subjected to a hostile work environment. Four incidents spread over three school years and two schools simply are not so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of Plaintiff’s employment. Moreover, while Chamberlin’s comment regarding Plaintiff’s age was offensive, it is questionable whether any reasonable person would find the other three comments offensive at all. At most, the four comments were "mere offensive utterances" not actionable under Title VII or the ADEA.
A 2002 Connecticut case involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Chele Jenkins, who was employed as a coordinator with a city school system. Jenkins' lawsuit for racial and religious discrimination claimed that her failure to pick up a birthday cake and to participate in a rally for increased educational funding outside the state Capitol led to her receiving poor job evaluations. Jenkins noted that her Jehovah's Witnesses religion prohibits her from celebrating birthdays or participating in political functions.
SYLVIA LOPEZ v. MEXICAN AMERICAN OPPORTUNITY FOUNDATION was a 1999-2000 California lawsuit involving a Jehovah's Witness named Sylvia Lopez. Lopez worked as a teacher's aide. Sylvia Lopez said that she was fired for refusing on religious grounds to salute the U.S. flag. "Jehovah's Witnesses are not allowed to salute the flag because the salute is considered a form of worship ... ." Outcome unknown, but predictably in Lopez's favor. [Researchers should note that a California plaintiff with same name lost a medical malpractice case in early 2000s.]
LEZLIE ROWELL v. LINCOLN was a 1995 Louisiana federal court case involving a Jehovah's Witness named Lezlie Rowell. Rowell got into a dispute with Lincoln Parish school officials after she would neither recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor salute the American flag. She subsequently sued, saying a failing grade in student teaching kept her from getting her education certification. The USDC ruled in her favor. $$$$ unknown.
During his 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, P. David Lopez, General Councel of the E.E.O.C., briefly mentioned that while he worked at the Justice Department between 1991 and 1994 that he had successfully prosecuted an unidentified small school district which had either terminated or refused to hire a Jehovah's Witness as a school bus driver, who had refused to take the state mandated loyalty oath.
BESSARD v. CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGES was a 1994 federal California court case which involved an African-American Mother and Daughter pair of Jehovah's Witnesses named Lanell Bessard and Tanella Bridges. Mother and Daughter had each sought non-professional employment at the Fresno City College campus. Both failed to make it past the initial screening phase in the college's hiring process due to the fact that they answered "NO" to the question on the college's standard job application form that stated: "Prior to employment, are you willing to swear or affirm allegiance to the United States and to the State of California?" This travesty of justice ended up costing the taxpayers $259,098.00.
Bessard and Bridges brought claims in federal court against the Community College District, alleging that their rights under the First Amendment and under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been abridged. While the court could have considered whether or not actions could have been taken by the college to reasonably accommodate the women's religious beliefs under Title VII, the Bessard court chose to address their claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This was due to the court's finding that the decision would obviate the need to subsequently address the plaintiff's statutory claims under Title VII and constitutional claims under the First Amendment. That court ruled that Bessard's and Bridges' free exercise rights had indeed been violated, which shifted the burden to the College to prove that it had both a compelling governmental interest in enforcing the policy and that the oath was the least restrictive means available to it to pursue this interest. The College stated two compelling interests. First, state law required the oath. Second, the College contended that it had "a compelling interest in ensuring employee loyalty and trustworthiness." The court renounced the College's first argument, finding that this rationale would lead to every state law being immune from attack on constitutional grounds, leaving individuals with hollow constitutional protections. With regard to their second argument, the court found that the oath was "not the least restrictive means of furthering the goal of having a loyal work force." That court expected the College to somehow prove that employees who take a loyalty oath were more loyal than those who did not. The court stated that the College could better develop and enforce employee loyalty through proper and prudent administration. The court found California's loyalty oath to be of little value in promoting worker loyalty among those who would object on religious grounds. In the end, the court found in favor of the two Jehovah's Witnesses and enjoined the College from requiring them to take the oath as a precondition of employment. In a jury determination of the damages suffered by the two Jehovah's Witnesses, they were awarded $259,098.00.
DUNN v. CLAYTON COUNTY GEORGIA BOARD OF EDUCATION was a 1982-3 Georgia civil court case which involved a Jehovah's Witness schoolteacher, named Janie Dunn. Dunn was a Cosmetology Instructor at Jonesboro Senior High School. At the start of the 1982-3 school year, Dunn was fired after she refused to sign the part of her employment contract which required her to affirm or swear "allegiance" to the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Georgia. Dunn got the ACLU to take up her cause, and filed a federal lawsuit. Outcome unknown.
AIn 1981, a Jehovah's Witness female, who applied for and was hired as a school crossing guard by the City of Azusa, California, was subsequently fired when she refused to take the oath required of all city employees. The JW appealed to the City Council, but lost. Unknown if she pursued legal action.
DEBRA FOURNIER v. NEW BEDFORD SCHOOL COMMITTEE was a 1980 Massachusetts federal lawsuit which involved a Jehovah's Witness School Teacher named Debra L. Fournier, of Middleborough, Massachusetts. Debra Fournier, age 25, and her husband were both Catholics who converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1978-79. Fournier, a non-tenured teacher at John B. DeValles Elementary School thereafter stopped teaching her students music and songs related to patriotism and the various holidays. Fournier also refused to pledge allegiance to the American flag, and refused to stand for the National Anthem. In early 1980, school administrators ordered Fournier to resume teaching the approved curriculum, but she refused due to her new WatchTower beliefs and practices. After holding two days of hearings, the School Committee voted unanimously to discharge Fournier for insubordination. Fournier thereafter filed a lawsuit against the New Bedford Massachusetts School Committee seeking reinstatement to her position. Outcome unknown.
PALMER v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO was a 1978-9 Illinois federal appellate court decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness Teacher, named Joethelia Palmer. Palmer was hired at the Field School in September, 1976, as a full-time non-tenured teacher. Prior to commencement of the 1976-77 school year, Palmer visited with Florence Paskind, the school's Principal, to inform her that due to her sincerely held religious convictions, Palmer would not teach "anything having to do with love of country, the flag and other patriotic matters." In deference to those convictions, Paskind met with Palmer and instituted certain procedures to accommodate her.
During the course of the school year, Paskind permitted a "team teacher", a student teacher and, in certain instances, parent volunteers to instruct the children on matters of patriotism. For various reasons, all of those methods proved infeasible. During this period, Joethelia Palmer refused to lead activities related to holidays like Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. At times, when no other aid was available, she allowed her five-year-old students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance on their own. According to Paskind, the results of such a practice were chaotic. Palmer's teaching behavior failed in other respects. She overemphasized or ignored certain areas, failed to use toys provided, failed to prepare adequate lesson plans, and was otherwise disorganized. During the school year, Paskind received complaints from parents concerning the fact that their children were not receiving the same instruction that other classes had received, and that if Palmer were to remain teachings at the school, they would hesitate to enroll their children in kindergarten there.
Joethelia Palmer was eventually terminated, and thereafter sought an injunction claiming a violation of her First Amendment rights. The Illinois USDC granted the School Board a summary judgment. On Palmer's appeal, the USCA affirmed, stating in part:
Plaintiff states the issue to be whether or not a public school teacher in her classes has the right to refuse to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance, the singing of patriotic songs, and the celebration of certain national holidays when to do so is claimed to violate her religious principles. The issue is more correctly stated to be whether or not a public school teacher is free to disregard the prescribed curriculum concerning patriotic matters when to conform to the curriculum she claims would conflict with her religious principles. ... ...Plaintiff in seeking to conduct herself in accordance with her religious beliefs neglects to consider the impact on her students who are not members of her faith. Because of her religious beliefs, plaintiff would deprive her students of an elementary knowledge and appreciation of our national heritage. She considers it to be promoting idolatry, it was explained during oral argument, to teach, for instance, about President Lincoln and why we observe his birthday. However, it would apparently not offend her religious views to teach about some of our past leaders less proudly regarded. There would only be provided a distorted and unbalanced view of our country's history. Parents have a vital interest in what their children are taught. Their representatives have in general prescribed a curriculum. There is a compelling state interest in the choice and adherence to a suitable curriculum for the benefit of our young citizens and society. It cannot be left to individual teachers to teach what they please. Plaintiff's right to her own religious views and practices remains unfettered, but she has no constitutional right to require others to submit to her views and to forego a portion of their education they would otherwise be entitled to enjoy. In this unsettled world, although we hope it will not come to pass, some of the students may be called upon in some way to defend and protect our democratic system and Constitutional rights, including plaintiff's religious freedom. That will demand a bit of patriotism.
Joethelia Palmer appealed the USCA's adverse decision to the Supreme Court of the United States. However, after review, SCOTUS announced, in January 1980, that it would not even bother considering Palmer's appeal.
McMANIGAL v. UTICA BOARD OF EDUCATION was a 1962 Michigan court case. During the fall semester of the 1961-2 school year, a music and band teacher at Sterling Junior High School, named Charles McManigal, 27, refused to lead his class in the singing of the National Anthem and the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. McManigal, who was himself the father of two, had taught in this school system for seven years without such problems. Evidently, McManigal had not previously been required to teach the National Anthem to his junior high students, nor had he been required to lead the Pledge. It did not help matters when McManigal attempted to explain his Jehovah's Witnesses beliefs about the American Flag being an idol, blah, blah, blah, to his students and anyone else that would listen.
Apparently, the issue came to a head in January 1962, when McManigal submitted his Letter of Resignation before he could be fired under the Board's recently adopted rule that any teacher that would not lead the Pledge or sing the National Anthem would be fired. However, McManigal withdrew such the next day. The Board then voted not to renew his contract, but agreed to allow him to finish out the school year. McManigal filed a formal complaint with Michigan's Fair Employment Practices Commission. In March 1962, the MFEPC forced the Utica School Board to agree to reassign McManigal to some other position which did not require the employee to lead students in the singing of the National Anthem and the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. Isn't America wonderful? There are few places in the world where the 99.9% will bow and kowtow to the will of the .1%. The local Utica Teacher's Assn and even the local Prosecutor came to McManigal's defense.
LEWIS v. MORGAN COUNTY was a 1951-2 Indiana state court lawsuit involving a Jehovah's Witness Principal named William Lewis. William Lewis was fired from his job as Principal of Hall Grade School after he refused to participate in a school flag ceremony. Lewis's refusal to salute the American flag, and his public comments that he would not bear arms in defense of the country enraged citizens of this rural school district. Local parents picketed the school and refused to allow Hall to enter. Hall's wife filed assault charges against another female who grabbed a camera from her after she started taking photos of the protesters.
Hall and his wife were recent converts to the JWs. Lewis had taught for several years in an adjacent county's school system, but that school syatem "traded" him to Morgan County after his recent conversion brought them similar headaches. Outcome unknown.
In September 1940, Jehovah's Witnesses and natural sisters, Mrs. Edrie Sandbach, age 35, and Miss Mary Elizabeth Crone, age 39, were first suspended for "insubordination", and after separate hearings FIRED from their positions as teachers when they refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance along with their students. Edrie Sandbach was employed at a school in Clark County, Indiana, while Mary Elizabeth Crone was employed at a Jeffersonville, Indiana, city school. Beginning with the 1940-41 school year, both school systems had instituted a new policy of mandatory Pledge ceremonies for both teachers and students based on the SCOTUS Go-bite-us court decision that previous Spring. Both Jehovah's Witnesses were later employed as teachers in adjoining Scott County, and retired after teaching for 25 years. Mary Elizabeth Crone eventually married, and became Mary Elizabeth Skaggs.
INDIANA v. EDRIE SANDBACH was a 1938-39 criminal prosecution of a Jehovah's Witness Teacher for "assault and battery" on a student. Edrie Sanbach was accused of slapping and striking on his head an 8 year-old, second-grade male student for having taunted another student. The boy's guardian claimed that the boy already suffered from an ear ailment, which the assault worsened, and required doctor's care. Outcome unknown, but given that Sandbach was still teaching locally two years later, Sandbach may not have been prosecuted, and if tried, was not convicted.
INDIANA v. MARY ELIZABETH CRONE was a 1935-36 MANSLAUGHTER prosecution of this Jehovah's Witness Teacher. In September 1935, while driving at night in Jeffersonville, Mary Elizabeth Crone struck and killed a 50 year-old "Negro" woman at what was described as a well-lighted intersection. A coroner's inquest blamed the death on Crone's
"carelessness". Given that Mary Elizabeth Crone was employed as a local school teacher in 1940, she either was not tried, or she was not convicted.
In November 1935, a Jehovah's Witness Teacher, named Grace Estep, was fired by the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania school board after she refused to lead her second grade class in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This event is occasionally cited by the Jehovah's Witnesses, the ACLU, and other JW sympathizers as an example of "persecution" suffered by the JWs, blah, blah, blah. Of course, they typically fail to report that when Grace Estep appeared before the school board to explain her position that she reportedly lectured her bosses:
"If you weren't so dumb, you would do a little investigating and become [Jehovah's] Witnesses yourself."
ALLEGED SEXUAL & NON-SEXUAL ASSAULTS ON CHILDREN & COWORKERS
FLORIDA v. HUGH MURRAY is an ongoing 2013 Florida SEXUAL ASSAULT prosecution involving a 28 year-old male African-American Jehovah's Witness, who coincidentally was employed as a Teacher's Aide at the Palm Beach County School for Autism. In June 2013, Hugh R. Murray, of Lake Worth, Florida was arrested on multiple charges, including sexual assault, extortion, battery, and lewd or lascivious behavior. Police allege that the victim of Murray's criminal behavior was a 16 year-old female Jehovah's Witness who also attended the same Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness as did Murray. The then 27 year-old Murray first began "grooming" the then 15 year-old victim back in July 2012. In December 2012, Murray allegedly sexually assaulted his new underage girlfriend, and reportedly did so repeatedly until June 2013.
The police contacted Murray after the report and warned him not to have any further contact with the victim. However, Murray allegedly then began texting the victim and threatening to report her fornications to the JW Elders at their Kingdom Hall, which presumably would lead to the victim being disfellowshipped and shunned, if she continued to cooperate with the police. Later, with police detectives listening in, the victim called Murray's cellphone. Murray told her that she had no right to go to the police, and that she "really screwed up" by doing so. Murray stated that it was he that took a "risk" by being with her, because he could go to jail. Murray asserted that they were both responsible for what happened, and again threatened to tell the victim's parents and the JW Elders at the Kingdom Hall. "You feel the way you do and you did what you did," Murray said. "So, if I was you, I would get things in order. ... Once I come and tell them, this is going to change a lot of things for you." Murray also threatened to post on the internet certain explicit photographs that he had taken of the victim. Hugh R. Murray remained in jail in lieu of $510,000.00 bail.
Roy alleges that the defendants prevented him from practicing his religion while he was at the Lake County Jail. He specifically asserts that he is a Jehovah's Witness, that jail officials would not allow Jehovah's Witnesses to conduct group worship in the jail chapel even though other denominations were allowed to do so, and that jail officials made it difficult for his minister [a local JW named CHASE] to give him spiritual guidance and eventually refused to let him come in the jail. ... "
Googling key terms yields a sex offender website, which lists a Kevin Roy, who then was a 47 year-old African-American male, who had been charged in Lake County, Indiana, under Indiana Criminal Code 35-42-4-3: Child molesting. Googling key terms also yields a Kevin Roy who held a School Teacher's Certificate (Physical Sciences) in the state of Indiana from 1989 until August 2006, when such expired.
TERRA J. SINKEVICIUS v. DePAUL UNIVERSITY was a 2008-2010 Illinois Human Rights Commission decision. An African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Terra Sinkevicius, was initially hired by DePaul University Library as a Student Assistant, in 1999. Sinkevicius was permitted to work a "flexible schedule" to accommodate her WatchTower meetings and field service (door-knocking).
In 2004, Terra Sinkevicius was promoted to Librarian Assistant III, and was assigned dual roles as Desk Supervisor and Reserves Supervisor. In 2006, Sinkevicius was verbally counseled three times regarding her inability to meet the Library’s expectations. In February 2007, the Employer issued Sinkevicius a written counseling for failing to meet the Library’s expectations for customer service. In June 2007, Sinkevicius filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC against the Library. In October 2007, the Library determined Sinkevicius was unable to successfully perform as both Reserves Supervisor and Desk Supervisor, so eliminated the Reserves Supervisor duties from Sinkevicius's duties. Sinkevicius was left with fewer work responsibilities, but her salary and benefits remained the same.
On December 4, 2007, while working on the "flexible schedule" intended to accomodate her WatchTower religious practices,Terra Sinkevicius was involved in an altercation with the Evening Desk Supervisor. A DePaul University Public Safety Officer had to physically separate Sinkevicius and the Evening Desk Supervisor. In order to minimize future contact between Sinkevicius and the Evening Desk Supervisor, Sinkevicius was notified that as of February 6, 2008, she would be required to work a regular schedule. The Library still accommodated Sinkevicius’s religious practices by allowing Sinkevicius to leave work when necessary to meet her religious obligations. However, Sinkevicius was required to make up any lost time using vacation time and floating holidays.
On February 14, 2008, Terra J. Sinkevicius filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Human Rights Commission in which she alleged that, in October 2007, that DePaul University demoted her because of her African-American race, and in retaliation for having filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and that the Library had failed to accommodate her Jehovah Witness religion in violation of Illinois state law. In July 2009, the Illinois Human Rights Commission dismissed Sinkevicius's case for Lack of Substantial Evidence. On appeal, in March 2010, a Commission Tribunal sustained the dismissal, stating that Sinkevicius had presented no substantial evidence that she had been demoted because she was African-American , nor was there is any substantial evidence that the Employer failed to accommodate Sinkevicius’s religion.The Tribunal stated, in part:
The Employer began documenting the Petitioner’s poor performance in her dual roles in August 2006. The Petitioner had received counseling for her poor performance on at least four separate occasions before the Employer decided to relieve the Petitioner of half of her duties. ... The evidence shows that prior to February 6, 2008, the Employer had accommodated the Petitioner in the practice of her religion by allowing her to work a flexible schedule. The evidence shows the Employer discontinued the flexible schedule as of February 6, 2008, in order to minimize the Petitioner’s contact with the Evening Desk Supervisor ... .
In 2006, a Jehovah's Witness Elder in Canada, who was employed as a public School Bus Driver, pled guilty to committing an "indecent act" during an official school field trip. The school bus was stopped at a large indoor mall, and the JW Driver evidently had stayed with the school bus while the children were inside the mall. More than one incident possibly occurred, and more than one person possibly witnessed the indecent act(s). The act(s) apparently happened in the parking lot away from the school bus, but the perpetrator apparently was later identified as being the driver of the school bus, and arrested. The JW Elder later resigned his position, and plea bargained to 9 months probation.
Steve Mansfield reportedly had previously been placed on PAID administrative leave in 1986 and again in 2000. According to a 2002 investigative report compiled for the Longview School District by personnel consultant Jan Marchbanks, in 1986, a local mother reported that she had found 82 "love letters" from Steve Mansfield to her teenage daughter, who previously had been one of Steve Mansfield's middle school students. According to the investigator's report, in September 2000, Steve Mansfield was again placed on paid administrative leave for seven months after an incident at his Castle Rock home. Mansfield and a 13-year-old female student were allegedly seen in his hot tub, with the 13-year-old female student sitting in his lap, with her arms around him. No criminal charges were filed after the girl and her mother said Mansfield was a close family friend and denied that anything inappropriate had happened.
At the May 12, 2003 BOD Meeting of the Longview School District, a parent named Suzanne Yule had some choice words for the Board for not previously publicly disclosing everything that it knew about Mansfield, but only after first acknowledging that she and her daughter had taken the side of Steve Mansfield in two earlier investigations after Mansfield had initially gained their trust, which Yule stated that they now regretted having done. Yule even used the "P" word, and even stated that "Steve Mansfield deserves to be in jail".
Despite numerous allegations of misconduct made over many years, some of which can be found online elsewhere, Steve Mansfield, now in his mid-60s, has never been criminally charged, and many of Steve Mansfield's former students still have fond memories of him.
FLORIDA v. VONDA CHRISTIE and FLORIDA v. IVONNE MARRERO were related 2003-5 Florida criminal court prosecutions which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Vonda Christie and her Teacher's Aide. Vonda Christie was employed as a first-grade teacher at Coral Gables Elementary School. In October 2003, both Christie and her Teacher's Aide, named Ivonne Nieves Marrero, were arrested for abusing five students in August and September 2003. The Teacher's Aide was a citizen volunteer, whom Vonda Christie knew well. Christie and Marrero were neighbors, and Christie had been raising Marrero's son since 2000. Marrero had a history of arrests and drug use. Marrero had been arrested seven times since late 2001. At the time of this incident, Ivonne N. Marrero was on probation for armed robbery.
Christie and Marrero were arrested for using tape to discipline five first-graders (all six years old) at different times. One boy said he was bound with tape to his chair and to the blackboard. Other pupils said their ankles were taped together, their arms taped to their lap or their heads taped to the blackboard. The girl said her mouth was taped shut. Since Marrero was the one who actually did the taping, she was charged with abuse and false imprisonment. The outcome of Marrero's case is unknown.
Since Vonda Christie did not do the actual taping, the Prosecutor later changed the charges against Christie from abuse to "neglect". However, that Florida statute applies only to child "care-givers", not schoolteachers, so in 2005, the Florida courts dismissed the neglect charges against Christie. There is no indication that the Prosecutor ever filed different charges.
EVELYN BENSON v. NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION I (2005) and BENSON v. NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION II (2006) were two related New York federal appellate and district court decisions, which represent a nearly decade-long running legal battle between an African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Evelyn Benson, and her employer, the New York City Board of Education.
BENSON I. Evelyn Benson was initially hired in 1971, and thereafter received a series of promotions. In 1997, the Board denied Benson's request for a raise. Later in 1997, Benson complained to the Board about the denied raise and about remarks allegedly made by her then-supervisor, who Benson claimed disparaged her on the basis of her African-American race and WatchTower religion. In June 1998, after filing two administrative grievances with the Board, Benson filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that the Board discriminated against her on the basis of her race and religion by failing to give her a pay raise and creating a hostile work environment. In October 1999, Benson filed a federal lawsuit alleging the same. The USDC dismissed Benson's lawsuit in 2003, and on Benson's appeal, the USCA affirmed the dismissal in 2005.
BENSON II. While Benson I was ongoing, in February 2002, Evelyn Benson filed a second charge with the EEOC alleging that the Board retaliated against her for filing the 1998 EEOC charge and Benson I. In August 2002, Benson filed BENSON II, in which she alleged retaliation based on "racial profiling", two job transfers, the denial of her health benefits, the Board’s failure to promote her, and her constructive termination. In 2006, the USDC dismissed all of Benson’s federal claims "with prejudice", and dismissed her state claims without prejudice to her refiling them in state court.
Many details are both limited and unclear, but Benson was apparently also charged with allegedly physically assaulting a Supervisor sometime prior to August 2000. The Board suspended Benson for the month of August 2000. When Benson returned from that suspension, the Board failed to reinstate her health benefits for nearly one year. Apparently, Benson alleged that the alleged assault was an instance of 'racial profiling", because she further alleged that she was deemed violent based on her race, rather than on her individual personality. Apparently, Benson also alleged that the August 2000 suspension was in "retaliation" for the events surrounding Benson I. Although unclear, the USDC in Benson II refused to hear these claims indicating that such had been dealt with in Benson I.
In October 2000, the Board transferred Benson to the Office of Hard of Hearing and Visually Impaired, under the supervision of Ina Hymes, where Benson was assigned a clerical position, which Benson later claimed did not befit her title. In July 2001, Benson was again transferred, this time to the Office of Speech Services, under the supervision of Helen Kaufman. Benson also claimed this position to be demeaning to her. With regard to Benson's claims that these transfers were in "retaliation" for the events surrounding Benson I, the USDC ruled:
"Benson claims that her transfer to OSS was an adverse action because Benson 'was assigned to a half desk[,] was given the task of packaging,' and was the only employee required to sign a log sheet in Kaufman’s office at the beginning and end of each day.' ... ... ..."... It is possible that a reasonable juror who is aware of the time-barred actions – which include an earlier transfer and other allegedly retaliatory acts – would find that the OSS transfer was a retaliatory adverse action even though it occurred twenty months after Benson I was filed. I therefore find that Benson has stated a prima facie claim of retaliation based on the OSS transfer."The burden therefore shifts to the Board to assert legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons for the OSS transfer. The Board has done so, claiming that Benson, while serving in HHVI (the position from which she was transferred), 'was insubordinate to her supervisor, Ms. Hymes, refused to do assignments given to her, [and] verbally abused her co-workers on several occasions[.]' ... Those allegations are supported by a thorough set of contemporaneous documents, including:• Two letters from Hymes to Benson stating that Benson refused to discuss an assignment Hymes attempted to give her ...;• A letter from Hymes to Benson stating that Benson spoke to two HHVI staff members in an “explosive” and “insulting” tone ...;• A memorandum from Marie Tesoriero ..., a co-worker of Benson, to Hymes stating that Benson “verbally assaulted and terrorized” Tesoriero by screaming, “You people have to stop doing this to me!” and pounding a cup on Tesoriero’s desk after Tesoriero asked Benson to contact a parent representative ...;• A letter from Hymes to Benson stating the same and explaining that Tesoriero’s account was confirmed by two witnesses ...; and• An Incident Report prepared by Tesoriero describing her run-in with Benson ... ."Benson was transferred to OSS approximately one month after the incident involving Tesoriero. This court finds that the reasons asserted by the Board are legitimate and nonretaliatory. The Board has therefore carried its burden, which means that Benson must put forth 'sufficient potential proof for a reasonable jury to find the proffered legitimate reason[s] merely pretext[s] for impermissible retaliation.' ... Benson has not done so.
"I find no factual basis for Benson’s allegation that the Board 'deliberately' made her working conditions 'intolerable'. I consider first the question of deliberateness. ... the Board had legitimate, nonretaliatory reasons for the non-time-barred acts Benson alleges, and Benson has not shown that those reasons were pretextual or even that the purpose of the acts – or one of several purposes, for that matter – was to effect Benson’s discharge. Absent any evidence to the contrary, this court must conclude that the Board did not 'deliberately' make Benson’s working conditions intolerable."This court also finds that the conditions effected by the Board’s acts were not 'intolerable'. In the context of constructive discharge claims, 'intolerable' means that a 'reasonable person' in Benson’s position 'would have felt compelled to resign'. ... ... This court finds that Benson’s non-time-barred allegations – that she was transferred to OSS and not promoted to the position of Educational Analyst – do not describe conditions that would compel a reasonable person to resign. ..."... there is no basis in this case to believe that the Board’s conduct was 'racheted up' in the period immediately preceding Benson’s alleged constructive discharge. Benson alleges that she was constructively discharged on September 10, 2002. ... The acts that most closely preceded that date were Benson’s non-promotion to the position of Educational Analyst, for which she was interviewed more than two years earlier ... and the OSS transfer, which occurred eleven months earlier ... .
TRINIDAD v. TABEEL LEWIS was a 2003-12 MURDER case. In October 2002, on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, a 62 year-old retired female schoolteacher and Jehovah's Witness Minister, named Dayah Ramsook, started a secret sexual relationship with a 17 year-old boy, named Tabeel Lewis, who also attended the same Siparia Trinidad Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. That illicit affair ended a year later, in November 2003, when Lewis killed Ramsook.
NIGERIA v. JACOBSON CHIBUZOR was a 2008-09 Nigeria criminal case which involved a 37 year-old School Teacher named Jacobson Chibuzor. Jacobson Chibuzor rented a room from a respected female professional in Lagos, Nigeria, who later claimed to have rented the room to him only because he was also a Jehovah's Witness Minister. In September 2008, neighbors responded to the screams of the teenage housekeeper who was being raped by Chibuzor in his room after the other adults had left for work. The 7 year-old daughter of the landlord later revealed that Chibuzor had also been sexually molesting her. The two girls were discovered to have contracted a STD from Chibuzor. Chibuzor later pled "not guilty" and was released on bail. Chibuzor thereafter fled Lagos, and failed to appear in court.
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