Parents of Pittston Area student file federal suit

The Associated Press


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - The parents of a Pittston Area School District student have filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging a teacher bullied their child in September.

The suit, filed by attorney Cynthia Pollick, identifies the parents as L.H. and C.H. on behalf of their child, A.H., against the school district and Superintendent Michael Garzella.

A teacher, identified as Kelli Diaz, verbally abused the couple's child in September 2012, according to the suit. The teacher allegedly directed these comments at him: “Shut up,” “Do you have a problem,” “It's day 13 and I can't stand you already,” “I'm not the only teacher who can't stand you,” and “You're going to have the worse year ever.”

Diaz also asked the child if he had Tourette's syndrome, according to the complaint.

The school district and Garzella should have known about the teacher's conduct, the suit says, due to “run-ins” in which she acted “inappropriately and had prior disciplinary issues.”

In October 2012, the suit says, the child's parents disclosed Diaz's conduct to the district and Garzella.

“(Diaz's) official misconduct is a matter of public concern since no teacher should be allowed to speak to a minor child in the manner (Diaz) did, nor should a teacher ever have the word Tourette's fall from their mouth when that minor child does not suffer from the same,” the suit says.

The suit alleges that after the district was alerted to Diaz's conduct, the district and Garzella “retaliated” against the parents and child by “protecting” Diaz and “forcing” the child to be home schooled for more than five months.

The district and Garzella also “refused to respond to inquiries about the status of the alleged investigation into (Diaz's) bullying,” failed to disclose any discipline given to Diaz and caused “anxiety” and “emotional distress” to the parents and child.

The suit alleges negligence in the supervision and hiring of Diaz and asks that an injunction be issued, stopping any retaliation against the parents and their child.

The parents also ask that their child be permitted to resume school without Diaz in his presence and seek damages against the school and Garzella, as well as attorneys fees and costs, interest and delayed damages and emotional distress.

The suit also asks that a “secret” settlement agreement with Diaz be made public.

In October, the school district hired a lawyer to investigate a claim of teacher bullying. Four months later, the school board approved a disciplinary agreement about an unnamed employee.

The district and employee “have agreed to disciplinary action and remedial conditions outside the scope of the governing collective bargaining agreement at no further cost to the district,” according to a statement read at a school board meeting. “By this resolution, the safety and welfare of the students are protected.”

No other information about the agreement was disclosed.

District Solicitor Joseph Saporito did not return a phone message left late Wednesday afternoon. A phone number for Diaz could not be found.

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What's being said

  • ELois P. Clayton


    I am PROUD, of how this child's parents, are handling this school district;NOT allowing them to get away with protecting this DISrespectful teacher and making sure that he prosecuted and is EXPOSED(for the safety of other children AND, to give their OWN child peace of mind(which he WELL deserve)!

    NOTE: Would you believe that this is the SAME behavior guards at Chester MHC acts towards patients there and that the admins., there, has been COVERING us these 'Human Rights' ABUSES for years?

    After my family filed complaint after complaint(only for them to return back marked , "UNFOUNDED"(which is a LIE), we FINALLY got our complaint, 'SUBSTANTIATED'!

    BULLYING, has been a problem in my brother's life since he was (13) years old'retaliated on because of OTHER BULLIES, but finally, we're getting such individuals EXPOSED and wil continue to fight to have them ALL prosecuted, for he ALSO, has been raped by guards.

    I inform him that regardless of what he's been through, he is NO less, than man and that God loves him and so do I!

    Our parents are BOTH deceased and we're asking for your PRAYERS for him(and other patients there), for ABUSE is NOT part of ANY punishment.


    We are ALSO fighting to have a website REMOVED, that falselly labelled him as a rapist;their attempt to COVER the fact that HE, is the one, who's been raped!

    ATTN: About (5) minutes SOUTH of Chester MHC, is a CEMETERY where OVER 24 deceased patients from CMHC, are buried;died from psychotropic drugs administered to them at CMHC.

    PLEASE PRAY, for my brother David P. and for the other patients at CMHC, in Chester, Illinois.

    Our 'SUBSTANTIATED(finally) complaint, SURELY OPENS the door, for the other complaints to be recognized.

    I can be contacted at (773)622-2906, for a FULL news interview, to talk MORE, about the abuses orchestrated against my brother(mainly by guards) at CMHC, with DOCUMENTED PROOFS, IN HAND!

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