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Published: Saturday, 8/31/2002

Ex-Sylvania principal files suit over transfer

The former principal at Central Elementary School claims she was demoted because she took an active role in demanding Sylvania school officials clean the building.

Toni Gerber filed a lawsuit yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against the Sylvania Board of Education and Superintendent Lester Schultz. She was transferred recently to McCord Junior High School, where she is an assistant principal.

Central Elementary was closed Oct. 29 after pupils and teachers complained of rashes and respiratory problems. The building was cleaned and pupils were sent to three locations for classes until the building reopened April 2.

Mrs. Gerber said she told school officials about health problems in the building more than a year before it was closed. She said she repeatedly confronted Mr. Schultz about pupil and teacher health concerns, and was told he “would not take anecdotal evidence.”

According to the lawsuit, Mrs. Gerber, who had been principal since 1989, was transferred to the junior high in July and given a two-year rollover contract while other administrators received three-year contracts. Mrs. Gerber claims the job change violates the contract she signed with the district in that she cannot be transferred to a position of less responsibility. She is asking to be returned to her former job and for compensatory damages in excess of $25,000 for mental anguish and humiliation.

Mr. Schultz said Ms. Gerber's transfer was warranted and justified. “I feel the lawsuit has little, if any, merit. The board will work with our legal counsel to bring some resolution to the issues,” he said.

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