The Crestwood School Board’s decision last year to hire Fairview Elementary Principal Peg Foster as new superintendent, and then later rescind her appointment before she took the post, has resulted in Foster suing the board, the district and three specific board members.
In a lawsuit filed June 8 and released to the media last week, Foster claims that her civil rights were violated. She signed a contract with the district to take the superintendent’s position and, the complaint states, the board breached her contract “by attempting to rescind it without proper cause and without notice or a hearing.”
Joseph Joyce, the attorney representing the district, responded that the contract was never reviewed by the Crestwood solicitor, therefore the board had no wrongdoing in rescinding the appointment.
Foster’s attorney, Cynthia Vullo, refused to comment, referring questions to the lawsuit itself. It outlines that Foster is asking for damages, to be determined at trial, plus interest, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages. She is seeking this compensation from the district, board, and board members Maureen McGovern, Joseph Kaminski, and Ron Sturgeon.
On Aug. 29, Joyce, on behalf of the Crestwood parties named, filed a motion for dismissal of the case and related that he is confident the lawsuit will end there. He explained that, after the dismissal filing, Foster and her attorneys will have a certain time period to respond before judicial action is taken.
Foster, who has been principal of Fairview Elementary since 2012, interviewed for the position of superintendent last fall, as then-Superintendent David McLaughlin-Smith was looking forward to
retiring. She submitted all the proper paperwork and materials, states the lawsuit, including notice that her state letter of eligibility would be completed by December.
Foster was then hired as superintendent at the board’s Nov. 19 meeting, in a 5-3 vote. On Nov. 27, she and the soon-to-be replaced president of the school board signed a contract for employment, to begin Jan. 8, 2016, with an initial salary of $115,000.
By signing this contract, Foster’s suit states that, by then rescinding the appointment, the contract was breached. Joyce countered by claiming the contract was never reviewed by Crestwood Solicitor Jack Dean. More than once, he noted that the contract was “executed at a gas station,” as a way to denounce its credibility.
Before the Nov. 19 vote, some audience members, along with Kaminski and Sturgeon –who were elected to serve the school board but would not take their seats on the board for a month –voiced their objections because of Foster’s lack of certification. (She did later obtain that certification.)
Accusing the board of rushing the vote, Kaminski remarked then, “The new board starts next month and we will be working with this person for four years. Can’t you just wait?” He noted that he had nothing against Foster, but wanted to be part of the process. “Let us get in office and do interviews and, if she’s selected, it’s a win-win,” he told the board.
At the next meeting, Dec. 10, after an hour-long executive session, with Kaminski, Sturgeon and William Jones now on the board, replacing directors who had previously supported Foster, her appointment was rescinded, in a 6-3 vote. Director McGovern, who is named personally in the lawsuit with Kaminski and
See Sues page 10