Former Principal Sues District for Wrongful Termination

Allegory of Justice
A former principal from Allentown, Pennsylvania is filing a lawsuit against his former school district for wrongful termination. The school district is accused of retaliation and tampering with the hearing process of his suspension. Jose Rosado, the Allentown School District’s former alternative education officer, names the district, Chief Operations Officer David Wildonger, and Superintendent Russell Mayo in the suit.

Rosado claims that he was targeted for termination after he complained about alleged discrimination against black and Hispanic students. The school district had suspended Rosado in May, 2014, pending a termination hearing. Rosado was accused of persistently neglecting his duties in the 2013-2014 school year. Rosado claims he was being punished for speaking out against placing students in alternative education without due process and other unfair practices.

Rosado claims that principals of regular education schools were referring black and Hispanic students to his programs for being “disruptive,” even though they did not meet the standards required for transfer. In November 2011, Rosado was accused of interfering with the placements of students, and was ordered by Mayo to transfer students awaiting placement. Rosado obeyed, then filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

In 2013, Wildonger allegedly spoke with Rosado about saving the district money by labeling special education students as disruptive, thereby bypassing federal regulations. Rosado confirmed that this practice was illegal, and contacted the Department of Education a second time.

Following a four-month medical leave, Rosado was informed of his pending termination in July, 2014. Rosado alleges that he was not given a fair hearing because Wildonger and Mayo told board members to uphold Rosado’s firing, or Mayo would be forced to quit. The hearing process was ended in December when the board accepted Rosado’s resignation. The lawsuit claims that Rosado had been forced to resign in order to be able to find another job and keep his principal’s certificate.

The school district’s attorney, John Freund, told that the Education Law Center audited the Allentown alternative education program and found no violations. He went on to add that the district “will defend this case and respond appropriately.”

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