Former Community Consolidated School District 15 assistant principal Elizabeth Wong filed a response Jan. 23 to the district’s motion to dismiss her federal lawsuit.
In the document, her attorneys argue the district’s motion is filled with inappropriate comments and includes irrelevant claims ignoring established law.
The federal lawsuit filed last October alleges Wong was terminated in retaliation for reporting her former supervisor Edward Nelson’s drinking and sexual harassment to district administrators. It further alleges two administrators intentionally interfered with her employment at the district.
Wong's lawsuit states that her treatment by District 15 violated her First Amendment Rights and the Illinois Whistleblower Act. She is seeking no less than $500,000 and attorney fees.
District 15’s motion to dismiss all four counts of the lawsuit was filed Dec. 19.
In the response, Wong’s attorneys answer the district’s arguments that her complaints were not a matter of public concern and therefore not protected under the First Amendment.
Wong’s “objections to Nelson’s conduct were made because of the far-ranging magnitude and the potential serious damage to the school over which he was presiding, as well as the entire school district. Such speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment,” her attorneys argue.
District 15 has asserted that in her lawsuit Wong states she was attempting to follow the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Abuse Reporting Act, but she never made a report to the Department of Children and Family Services.
Wong's attorney's stated that this is not an accurate reading of the lawsuit: “Whatever Principal Nelson’s shortcomings may have been, there is no indication in the (lawsuit) that he was guilty of an act which would constitute abuse or neglect of a child.”
In addition, the response seeks to disprove D-15’s argument that their administrators were acting in the school district’s interests by terminating Wong. It states the lawsuit specifically alleges that she was fired “in retaliation for bringing the inappropriate and illegal conduct of Principal Nelson to the attention of the appropriate school officials.”
“No one can assert in good faith that it was in the interest of the school district to protect a drunkard and sexual harasser, while penalizing the employee who sought to protect the school district from his outrageous and illegal conduct," argue Wong's attorneys.
District 15, Superintendent Scott Thompson and several administrators named in the lawsuit have until Feb. 13, 2012 to file a reply.
The judge in the case will then decide whether D-15’s motion to dismiss has merit and is granted.