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Daughter of Madison Co. Commissioner Claims Retaliation by Superintendent, School Board

HCSApril2014Lawsuit

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The daughter of a Madison County Commissioner has filed a lawsuit against Huntsville Superintendent Casey Wardynski and the Huntsville Board of Education.

Lynda Gaines claims she was denied a transfer to teach at another school because her father, Bob Harrison, is embroiled in a public disagreement with the school system.

She demands a trial by jury.

Gaines has taught in Huntsville City Schools for 18 years. Her complaint details meetings she says she attended with Dr. Wardynski and other school administrators regarding school moves in recent years.

During the 2011-12 school year, Gaines taught at the Seldon Center. When the Center closed, teachers there were told they would be transferred. Gaines was told she would be transferred to a position at Davis Hills Middle School.

Gaines requested a hearing to discuss the transfer, and after meeting with the school board and the superintendent, and then again with the superintendent at a later date, she had the understanding if she would serve at Davis Hills during 2012-13, she would receive her choice of an assignment for 2013-14. Gaines desired to work at a high school.

Toward the end of the next school year, in March 2013, Gaines asked again about a transfer. Her current principal at Davis Hills wanted her to stay on, and offered her another position at the school.

Gaines said around this time, her father, Bob Harrison, was critical of the Huntsville Board of Education and was featured in a Huntsville Times article about this topic.

Gaines claims her father’s remarks led to her being retaliated against by Wardynski and the board, and her being passed over for transfers she was promised.

She claims these actions also caused her to suffer mental distress and emotional anguish.

Read the complaint here.

Superintendent Wardynski issued a response Friday.

“These allegations are simply without merit, and the district looks forward to presenting the true facts to the court. The Complaint will now be reviewed by the school system’s legal experts and, since it is a pending matter, we will not be able to offer any additional information at this time.”

School Board Member Laurie McCaulley shared an email last year with WHNT News 19 from Gaines dated July 9th.

Here is the text from the email electronically signed by Lynda Harrison Gaines:

“The school year is approaching and my matter is unresolved. Sent certified letters to the Superintendent and Deputy. Board members letters will come. At my hearing, I proceeded last year with civility and discretion. I wanted no public interference or formal representation in order to give administration a chance to act properly. I proceeded with careful intent because Wardynski was new and you were up for re-election. Now I have no other choice than to take desparate (sic) measures to be treated fairly. I acted in good faith and hoped to receive the same. I am so disappointed in our system and so are many others. Please keep the interest of EVERYBODY in mind in the choices you make today- July 9 and for the duration of your term.”

McCaulley told forwarded the email to the superintendent, school district’s lawyer, Rep. Laura Hall and Rev. Clarence Johnson.The school board member told all of them Gaines threatened her.