Three former maintenance workers for the Lackawanna School District are alleging in a federal lawsuit that they were fired in 2010 as retaliation for bringing harassment and discrimination complaints against a maintenance supervisor.
The district and the Board of Education were named as defendants, along with John W. Makeyenko, a former board member who lost a re-election bid in May, and Ronald S. Miller, current board president.
The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court by attorney Andrew P. Fleming, also alleges an illegal gambling operation within the district's maintenance department and paints the school district as a hotbed of political patronage micromanaged by vindictive School Board members.
"They were just targeted flat-out for baldfaced retaliation in violation of the law," Fleming said.
The district's lawyer, Carl W. Morgan, denied that the layoffs were retaliatory, saying that economic realities guided the board's decision.
The district's business administrator recommended eliminating four maintenance positions and creating two custodian positions in a cost-cutting measure to deal with decreased state aid, according to a July 6, 2010, School Board resolution authorizing the layoffs, effective Aug. 6, 2010. The board voted, 5-2, to approve the measure.
The layoffs, Morgan added, were "strictly dictated by civil service seniority status."
Miller, who received a copy of the complaint Wednesday, said the lawsuit contains knowingly false and malicious statements against him.
"I fully intend to file a counterlawsuit," Miller said.
Makeyenko said Thursday he had yet to be made aware of the lawsuit, and he declined to comment until he could examine it.
The suit centers on discrimination complaints in 2007 made by former maintenance worker Munir Mohsin, a Yemeni-American who is Muslim. Two of Mohsin's co-workers, Michael J. Bryniarski and Matthew W. Blattenberger, signed statements in support of Mohsin's contentions, and the statements were presented to the School Board.