Ex-Philly schoolteacher says she was fired based on age, race

Posted: July 25, 2014

A FORMER TEACHER at John B. Kelly Elementary School in Germantown has filed a federal lawsuit against the School District of Philadelphia, contending she was wrongfully fired based on her age and race.

Lynne Mancuso, who is white, contends that the school's then-principal, Fatima Goodman Rogers, who is a younger, black woman, "undertook a course of conduct toward me and harassed, discriminated against and advised that I be terminated because I was a 51-[year]-old white person."

Mancuso, who lives in Merion, had received satisfactory evaluations as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher in the school district from July 1992 to September 2010, according to the suit, filed earlier this week.

In September 2010, she was voluntarily transferred to Kelly Elementary, where Rogers was principal. Mancuso claims that Rogers treated her differently from other teachers, "manufactured false information" about her to make her appear "incompetent," and "humiliated" her "in front of her peers on a daily basis" because she was older and white.

In one case, in March 2012, Rogers observed Mancuso teaching a "problem" second-grade class, then "falsely reported that [Mancuso] ignored unruly students who were acting up in the classroom" when Mancuso actually did address the matter more than once, the suit contends.

The suit says Rogers recommended in late August 2012 that Mancuso be fired, and that Mancuso was ultimately fired in February 2013.

Fernando Gallard, school district spokesman, said yesterday that the district doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Rogers is currently principal at Charles W. Henry School, a K-8 public school on Carpenter Lane near Greene Street in West Mount Airy.

A voice message left by the Daily News at the school and at a home number listed in a public database for Rogers, now 40, was not returned yesterday.

Mancuso contends Rogers also discriminated against other older white teachers at Kelly Elementary and against a light-skinned black teacher, who was about 58 years old.

Kelly, according to district statistics, has a student body that is about 90 percent African-American.

Mancuso could not be reached yesterday. Her lawyer, Samuel Dion, did not return a voice message or email from the Daily News.

The wrongful-termination suit seeks unspecified damages. It asks for a jury to compensate Mancuso for "pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, harm to reputation, lost income, punitive damages," and costs and fees.

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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