WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County judge heard arguments Monday regarding a lawsuit launched by a former school administrator convicted of having a sexual affair with a student against the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and the union — even though the plaintiff and his lawyer didn’t show up.
Stephen Stahl, former dean of students and wrestling coach at Coughlin High School, served six months in prison in 2015 after he was convicted on a corruption of minors charge.
In 2016, he filed a complaint against the district and the Pennsylvania State Education Association, or PSEA, saying his contract was breached when he was given what he called a “bogus” Loudermill hearing before his suspension. A Loudermill hearing is a due process hearing for public officials being terminated by their employers.
He also argues that PSEA failed to adequately assist him.
Attorneys for the district and PSEA met before Luzerne County President Judge Richard M. Hughes III to argue their preliminary objections to the suit.
A representative from KingSpry, the law firm representing the district, told the Times Leader the district feels Stahl’s suit is “meritless,” adding that neither Stahl nor his attorney, Edward F. Bezdecki, were at the hearing to argue their case.
In a filing responding to the complaint, the law firm says that Stahl’s contract was not breached, claiming that Loudermill-based claims cannot be the basis of breach of contracts claims. The law firm suggests Laudermill rights are not based in contract law.
Without subsequent argument from Stahl and Bezdecki, Hughes said he would issue an order at a later date.
Efforts to reach Bezdecki, whose offices appear to be in New Jersey, were unsuccessful later Monday.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan