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Lawsuit looming in Susquehanna Twp. school district

Updated: Thursday, October 31 2013, 10:54 PM CDT
Reported by: Kyle Rogers

SUSQUEHANNA TOWNSHIP -- The Susquehanna Township School District, already facing several challenges this year, is now facing another one.
Two of its school board members have announced their intention to file a federal lawsuit against the board, the district, and the superintendent, Dr. Susan Kegerise.

The suit, which has not been filed yet, will be brought by Mark Sussman and Jesse Rawls Sr. 

The two men say they’ve been stonewalled, belittled, disrespected, and that they even feel threatened. They say they’re going to file this lawsuit because they believe Kegerise’s contract – which they voted against when it came before the board months ago – gives her too much control over the district and even violates the board’s First Amendment rights.

“The bottom line is, the contract is poorly written and is very one-sided,” Bret Keisling, attorney for the board members, said.

The board members allege that parents, students, and teachers are intimidated to discuss district matters, saying they’ve received letters from Kegerise’s attorney demanding to know which teachers they’re talking to.

“If I want to say whatever I want to say to my elected official, I shouldn't have to go through an employee first,” Keisling said.

Kegerise’s attorney disagreed – and shot back that he has yet to even see a lawsuit.

“In her contract, it says when issues of school concern are raised to a board member, those concerns are to go through administration, whether it’s a principal to assistant superintendent or directly to the superintendent herself.

She ultimately is one to administer how school operates. It seems to me that two members of the board that seem to think they are administrators rather than board members,” Jason Kutulakis.

Because he hasn’t seen a lawsuit, he spoke only on speculation, but did say, “It's an inherent conflict of interest and it seems to be me if they're going to sue the board they should probably resign. If not, I definitely think they'll be precluded from any executive discussions regarding this litigation,” he added.

In a joint statement from the two board members, they said they did not want to take this action and have tried to work through the school board with the administration to improve communications.

“We’re really swimming in the dark at this point without having the complaint before us,” Kutulakis said.

“We’re simply saying every parent, student, teacher, and taxpayer should go through their elected official. In America, they're allowed to do that,” Keisling said.

Keisling said he wanted it to be clear, this is not about ousting the superintendent, but Kutulakis said the timing of the lawsuit – with election day next week – is suspicious.
Lawsuit looming in Susquehanna Twp. school district

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