DALLAS TWP. — In a legal brief filed Monday in federal court, the Dallas School Board denied almost all allegations made in a lawsuit filed by former head football coach Ted Jackson Sr.
Jackson filed his original suit in September 2012 against the district and several school board members, contending he was fired as retribution for speaking out against the dismissal of his son as assistant basketball coach. He filed an amended complaint July 1 alleging the firing was also political.
His amended complaint claimed his replacement as head football coach, Robert Zaruta, was “active in local Republican Party politics,” that his son “is chairman of the Luzerne County Young Republicans” and that Zaruta and his family “were active, in particular, in the campaign to elect Republican candidate Stephanie Salavantis to the position of Luzerne County District Attorney,” a campaign Zaruta alleges the district defendants supported.
“The motivation of defendants in opening the position of head football coach was to create a vacancy in that position so as to enable the defendants to hire … Robert Zaruta,” the revised complaint contends. It also claims the board changed the policy of hiring assistant coaches, removing the head coach from the process, then offered an assistant football coach position to the brother of Salavantis.
The amended complaint seeks to have Jackson Sr. reinstated as football coach with unspecified back pay and punitive damages. The original complaint sought damages in excess of $70,000.
In the reply brief, the district and board deny all but a comparative handful of charges. In most cases the denials are procedural. Many begin “after reasonable investigation, defendants are without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of falsity” of the claim.
Other charges are denied “since they are conclusions of law to which no responsive pleading is required,” or because the district contends they are “opinion.” Several others are denied because of differences in dates or other facts between the complaint and the district’s records.