WILKES-BARRE — A teacher has sued the Dallas School District, claiming she was demoted because of her gender.
Former Dallas Middle School learning support teacher Jennifer Yanuskavich, of Shavertown, claimed her anxiety disorder flared up after the district transferred her to Wycallis Elementary last year, a position she alleged was more demanding and stressful because of the students’ “extreme” needs.
Filed in federal court this week, the lawsuit alleged district superintendent Tom Duffy told her she was to replace a male teacher who had held the job because the district “cannot have a tall military guy working with 5- and 6-year-olds.”
“By preferring a female to a man for the Wycallis Elementary School, the district wrongly and illegally relied upon the sexist assumption that only a woman can or should work with young children who have severe physical, emotional, intellectual and behavioral needs because women’s roles are as ‘caretakers’ and ‘nurturers,’” stated the lawsuit, filed by attorney Kimberly Borland.
District solicitor Vito DeLuca said Dallas will defend the allegations. He had not thoroughly reviewed the complaint and declined further comment on the specific claims raised in it.
Yanuskavich had three students with disabilities at Wycallis. But instead of teaching them, the lawsuit claimed, she spent most of her time performing “physically grueling, non-professional and non-teaching work and was required to spend much of her time dealing with extensive health, hygiene and behavior issues of the children.”
She became sick numerous times from the children’s alleged sanitation issues, according to the lawsuit. The alleged demotion also triggered an anxiety disorder that had been non-existent while Yanuskavich was working at the middle school, the lawsuit added.
Requests to be transferred back to the middle school or to hire classroom aides were refused, the claim states.
Yanuskavich filed an administrative charge of sexual discrimination, disability discrimination and failure to accommodate with the Equal Employment Opportunity and Human Relations commissions in February 2016 and received a notice of right to sue in May.
The lawsuit seeks damages and reinstatement of Yanuskavich to her former job.
Yanuskavich is still employed with the school district, DeLuca said Thursday.