Former administrator at School for the Deaf and the Blind sues for retaliation

2013-12-16T00:00:00Z 2014-01-24T15:13:14Z Former administrator at School for the Deaf and the Blind sues for retaliationBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A former employee of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind is suing the school, claiming ASDB’s superintendent retaliated after she filed a grievance against him.

Nancy Amann, a former assistant superintendent at ASDB, claims Superintendent Robert Hill recommended the non-renewal of her contract after she accused him and two other administrators of gender and disability discrimination, according to a document filed in the U.S. District Court.

Amann, who is deaf, is suing for lost wages, compensation for emotional distress and pain and suffering, and other costs associated with the case, according to the court document, which was filed Dec. 6.

The lawsuit is the result of a series of incidents between Amann and Hill that began this February and lasted until the spring, when the governing board declined to renew her contract.

Hill questioned Amann’s handling of a vehicle search after a video gaming device was stolen from a student dorm, as well as issues surrounding the school’s agriculture program.

He also accused her of improperly hiring employees.

Hill and other school officials believed the vehicle search, which happened in December 2012, might have been illegal.

He placed Amann on administrative leave in February as the school initiated an investigation.

The superintendent emailed Amann about three weeks later to set up a meeting but canceled after she filed the grievance against him and the other administrators.

In April, Hill submitted a report to the ASDB governing board regarding nine issues related to Amann’s work performance, including the vehicle search.

Some of the issues were known to Hill before he placed Amann on leave, but those items supposedly were not part of the reason for putting her on leave.

Amann claimed Hill never disciplined her for work-related issues or gave any indication that her contract might not be renewed if she didn’t improve.

She also denied a claim in the report that she showed a “pattern of dishonesty.”

Amann saw the report for the first time at an April board meeting and was given only 15 minutes to read it before she could respond, she said in the court document.

The board voted against renewing her contract at the meeting.

Amann was one of five employees who filed complaints against Hill at the time, accusing him of harassment and discrimination. The complaints spawned an investigation by an independent law firm hired by the governing board.

In late October, an investigative report prepared by the law firm cleared Hill of any major wrongdoing, although the report questioned his leadership, communication and the way he handled certain situations.

Hill has been on administrative leave since Oct. 24, about a week before the report was released.

He is supposed to have an opportunity to respond to the allegations at ASDB’s next board meeting, which is scheduled for February.

He hasn’t been available for comment since he was placed on leave. ASDB officials wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit.

Amann also wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit.

However, Amann responded after the report was released, saying the investigation revealed Hill’s poor judgment, decisions and actions.

“I was especially glad that the report cleared me of dishonesty because that accusation was very wrong. It becomes a defamation issue for me right now,” she said in a Facebook message on Nov. 4. “Hill basically lied to the Board about the dishonesty part.”

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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