Girl Adds Allegations To Lawsuit The Original Complaint Alleged That An Upper Perkiomen District Teacher Called The 12-year-old A Neo-nazi.

Posted: April 01, 1997

A federal civil-rights lawsuit alleges that the Upper Perkiomen School District has fostered a climate in which middle-school girls are harassed and intimidated by their teachers.

Filed by a 12-year-old girl and her parents, the suit claims that at least four students have been made the object of ridicule because of their ethnic origin or religion.

The suit was originally filed anonymously by Upper Perkiomen Middle School student ``Nicole K.'' and her parents, Peter and Cathy. It alleges that Donald J. Pisker Jr., a veteran social-studies teacher at the school in East Greenville, called Nicole a ``neo-Nazi'' after stumbling over her name during roll call in February.

An amended complaint filed last week at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia contains additional allegations. The suit now says that Pisker last year ``terrorized and harassed'' a girl because of her Russian background and that he recently made cracks about another girl's religion. It also alleges that last year a boy was ``subjected to a bombardment of derogatory comments based on ethnicity by teachers'' at the school because he is not of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.

All of the new allegations are filed anonymously, not revealing the students' last names. The suit names Pisker and the school district as defendants, and asks for unspecified money damages, among other things. Philip M. Stinson Sr., the attorney for Nicole and her parents, could not be reached for comment yesterday. John O'Brien 3d, a lawyer in Stinson's Wynnewood office, said the new allegations came to light in letters parents wrote to Stinson.

School district officials said they had not yet seen the new complaint, which was filed last week. ``I know of no other incidents,'' said district Superintendent H. George Bonekemper.

Pisker is a former minor-league baseball player who has been teaching for 13 years in the school district, Bonekemper said. He also coaches middle-school basketball and baseball.

``He's still teaching. He's reassigned to another class,'' Bonekemper said. ``A human being shouldn't be subjected to the treatment he's getting.''

Reached at home in Barto, Berks County, Pisker's wife referred all questions to lawyers, who she said had advised her not to talk.

The Upper Perkiomen School District serves Upper Hanover, Marlborough, East Greenville, Pennsburg, Red Hill and Green Lane. Nicole is one of four children and was born in Doylestown, Bucks County; her father is a German immigrant.

The lawsuit says that Pisker slandered Nicole. It claims that Nicole was ridiculed by other students after being called a neo-Nazi. The suit says the experience has left her, at one time or another, ``terrified,'' ``stunned,'' ``embarrassed,'' ``depressed,'' ``agitated,' ``irritable'' and ``afraid.''

The new complaints were added after the school district asked the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that one alleged incident does not rise to the level of a civil-rights problem. Federal law requires a policy or practice of abuses for a litigant to make a civil-rights claim.

Pisker's ``actions ultimately are serving to exclude Nicole K. from meaningful academic and social opportunities at the Upper Perkiomen Middle School on the basis of gender,'' the suit says. ``Mr. Pisker lacks the demeanor, maturity and temperament appropriate and necessary to teach seventh-grade girls in a public school environment.''

The suit also asks the court to remove Pisker from all student contact until Nicole K. graduates from high school or leaves the Upper Perkiomen School District.

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