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District, Hamilton added to lawsuit

In a prom week move, the Ringgold School District and Assistant Superindendent Gary Hamilton were added as defendants to a law suit involving two high school teachers in the aftermath of the 2005 prom.

A joinder was filed this week in Washington County Common Pleas Court by attorney John Wall, of Pittsburgh, on behalf of defendant Lynda Robinson.

The legal document adds the district and Hamilton to a civil law suit filed Dec. 14 by attorney Herman Bigi, of Charleroi, on behalf of Megan Pankiewicz against Robinson.

The initial suit was filed because of comments allegedly made following the 2005 prom.

Pankiewicz is an English teacher at Ringgold High School.

Robinson is a high school math teacher in the district.

According to the suit, the defendant and the plaintiff were chaperones at the prom, held May 13 at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel at Southpointe. Also present at the prom were Dwayne Homa, high school principal; Jeff Matty, assistant high school principal; Beth Horchak, high school math teacher; and Ottie Caruso, head of security at the high school.

On May 20, Pankiewicz was taken from her class to the administration building and confronted by Hamilton, according to the suit.

Hamilton asked Pankiewicz about false accusations that she “participated in sexual behavior and misconduct” with Homa, Matty and Caruso, specifically in the hospitality room, the suit states.

The suit claims Hamilton also asked Pankiewicz about false statements alleging she stayed overnight in the hospitality room with Homa and Matty.

The suit further claims that Robinson falsely stated that Pankiewicz received a better schedule for the 2005-06 school year as a result.

Subsequently, Robinson was suspended for three days without pay.

The suit claims the comments allegedly made by Robinson caused Pankiewicz “severe emotional distress, pain, anguish, humiliation and embarrassment.”

The motion filed this week claims that Pankiewicz filed a complaint with the district against Robinson for purported violation of the district’s unlawful harassment policy.

The suit claims the district refused to provide documents related to interviews it held with 25 district employees during its investigation.

According to the suit, Robinson denies the allegations made by Pankiewicz in the initial suit.

The joinder, however, states that if Pankiewicz sustained any damages, it was a result of the district and Hamilton failing to conduct a proper investigation, including keeping confidential statements made by Robinson during the investigation.

Ringgold Superintendent Ed Repka and Hamilton were in a meeting this morning and were unavailable for comment.


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