First Posted: 7/2/2013
SCRANTON — Former Dallas head football coach Ted Jackson wants his job back leading the Mountaineers from the sidelines, and he wants to be protected from future retaliation from Dallas school directors.
An amended lawsuit Jackson’s lawyer, Kimberly Borland, filed in federal court Tuesday appears to clarify allegations over the Hall of Fame coach’s dismissal in February 2012.
U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley on June 20 dismissed a section of Jackson’s first lawsuit but allowed him to refile an amended complaint to clarify violations of his First Amendment right to free speech.
Jackson, 62, alleges he was fired as head coach after he spoke out against the suspension of his son, Ted Jackson Jr., as a coach in the district. The younger Jackson was suspended as an assistant football coach for two games during the 2011 season after receiving unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in consecutive games.
He was fired as the high school’s basketball coach in November 2011 after a due process hearing with school officials.
Jackson claims his opinion about the way his son was suspended and fired was protected speech.
The lawsuit alleges school Principal Jeffrey Shaffer retaliated against Jackson by failing to perform a mid-season evaluation in 2011. Shaffer waited until after the football season ended to perform the evaluation, which contrasted with a near perfect evaluation following the 2010 season.
School directors opened the position of head football coach in December 2011. Jackson applied for the position, which was awarded to Robert Zaruta.
Claims in the first lawsuit and amended complaint allege school directors Catherine Wega, Maureen B. Matiska, Karen B. Kyle, Larry G. Schuler, Richard G. Coslett and Charles Preece, who are named in the lawsuit, have a Republican affiliation with Zaruta.
The lawsuit says Zaruta only had seven years of coaching experience at the junior varsity level, while Jackson had been head coach at Dallas since 1984, leading the program to 14 Wyoming Valley Conference titles, four Eastern Conference titles, three District 2 titles and the Class AA State Championship in 1993.