Monday, November 18, 2019
41.4 F
Beaver
Monday, November 18, 2019
41.4 F
Beaver

Former Rochester School Teacher Files Lawsuit Alleging Whistleblower Retaliation

A former Rochester Area school teacher who says she revealed fraudulent student grade changes is alleging the district ultimately retaliated against her by having her criminally prosecuted.

Charissa Daman, 41, through her Pittsburgh attorney Joseph Pometto filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Beaver County Court accusing district officials of violating the state’s Whistleblower Act and her First Amendment rights.

The district is promising a robust defense against the litigation.

Daman alleges that in February 2018 she discovered a guidance counselor made improper inflated grade changes on specific tests and overall class grades for at least a dozen students in an online course system.

She also alleges she told another teacher about the issue, and also told two school board members, Dennis Iannini and George Bauer.

To Daman’s knowledge no action was taken against the counselor. But in June 2018, Daman alleges Superintendent Jane Bovalino retaliated against her by banning her from using the online course system.

Daman claims her laptop was taken away and she was given a different kind of laptop that was a downgrade in capability and made it harder for her to perform her duties.

Now living in Franklin, Tenn., Daman resigned her high school science/art full-time position on Dec. 21, allegedly after the superintendent told her she’d be recommending to the board that Daman be fired.

Dec. 21 was also the day that district officials called police to Daman’s classroom, claiming she directed students to vandalize the room. Rochester Township police charged her on Feb. 1 with soliciting students to rip up floor tile.

Daman’s suit claims that the tile was peeling and a long-time hazard, causing students to slip and fall as well as to peel it up on their own. She claims she had reported it to officials multiple times.

Daman’s suit accuses district officials of not pressing the criminal case against her until more than a month later because they were retaliating in response to her filing for unemployment compensation.

“For the school district to resort to criminal charges against Mrs. Daman in a situation like this is extremely disturbing. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that the police were contacted on, or about, December 20th, but the school district took no steps to file the charges immediately after the incident was reported,” her suit reads.

“Rochester SD likely only decided to move forward with the charges after Mrs. Daman filed for unemployment on January 13, 2019.”

In April, Daman entered the court’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for nonviolent offenders with no previous convictions, according to court dockets. Successful program completion can result in having her record expunged. Daman admitted no wrongdoing upon entering the program which is not considered a conviction by the courts.

Daman paid a total of $4,051.55 in case costs, including $2,500 in district restitution.

“Up and until 2018, Mrs. Daman was an exemplary teacher at Rochester SD, excelling in both academic and athletic ventures,” her lawsuit reads. “Unfortunately, in 2018, due to Mrs. Daman’s reporting of wrongdoing, Rochester SD began treating Mrs. Daman in an unfair and retaliatory manner.”

The suit names as defendants Rochester Area School District, the school board, Bovalino and high school Principal Michael Damon. Daman is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

District Solicitor Garen Fedeles told BeaverCountian.com the school intends to engage in a full defense against the litigation.

“It has been turned over to the insurance carrier for the district who has assigned legal counsel,” he said.

“The district plans to vigorously fight the lawsuit. As this case is pending, there is no further comment at this time.”

BeaverCountian.com investigative reporter John Paul contributed to this report

Lori Boone
Lori Boone
Lori DeLauter Boone has more than 20 years of experience in investigative and community journalism. She’s won more than a dozen regional, state and national journalism awards.

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YoukntimgnLegendary ObserverBeaverCountyGalTruthfulTruthBeTold Recent comment authors
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HBMike
Guest
HBMike

Looks like Rochester School District is going the route of the rest of Beaver County politics. Makes me ashamed of my home town.

Truthful
Guest
Truthful

Its the entire county – a real sh*thole.

M.T. Pockets
Guest
M.T. Pockets

I wonder if Camp will give “Pittsburgh attorney Joseph Pometto” an office also. (To prepare the case and not have to travel back and forth to Pittsburgh.) He can call it a “legal room” and put it right next to his “media room”.

Physic
Guest
Physic

Ummm… this has nothing to do with the county?

FUBAR
Guest
FUBAR

So…Are you saying that Rottenchester seceded from Beaver County? Wow! That is news! SMH. FUBAR

Accordingtome
Member
Accordingtome

I wasn’t aware that the Rochester School District operated after 5pm. Considering that Mr. Fidelis is employed full time at the courthouse, I’m having just a wee bit of trouble believing that he’s handling this problem and every other issue that a solicitor deals with while not on the county clock. It is long past time that the courthouse institute a rule forbidding these attorneys from working 95 part time gigs while they collect a full time paycheck and benefits from the county taxpayers.

Icanread
Guest
Icanread

My first thought. They need to require these full-time professional county employees only work for the county.

beavercounty2
Member
beavercounty2

Read it again, he said it was turned over to the insurance carrier who has assigned legal council…..He ain’t going to do a thing, but get paid to have another attorney do the work.

Icanread
Guest
Icanread

He shouldn’t be their legal counsel at all or anyone else’s, or if he is, he should be considered part time by the county and not be eligible for pension.

TruthBeTold
Guest
TruthBeTold

Fact is this teacher should’ve been fired long before this situation. Ask former students, parents and staff members and a overwhelming majority would agree. For her attorney to say she was a exemplary teacher is laughable. Mrs. Daman was moved several times into different positions due to her ineptness. I could go on with many stories about Mrs. Daman many short comings but it serves no purpose. This district has many other concerning issues, but firing Mrs. Daman was a good start in cleaning up the messes former administrations created.

Youkntimgn
Guest
Youkntimgn

Sounds like someone has a grudge, maybe for being called out?

Truthful
Guest
Truthful

Any relation to the “gym” Damans?

BeaverCountyGal
Member
BeaverCountyGal

I don’t think so.

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