The Times-Tribune

Lawsuit vs. ex-super is partially dismissed

- BY TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER STAFF WRITER Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamr­; 570-348-9137; @tmbesecker­tt on Twitter

Former Scranton School District Superinten­dent Alexis Kirijan was not acting in her official capacity when she asked a priest to bar a teacher who criticized her from reading at a Mass they both attended, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion said Kirijan’s comments regarding Steve Bartnicki relate to a purely personal matter, therefore he cannot recover damages for alleged retaliatio­n.

Mannion also dismissed a claim for defamation, but let stand Bartnicki’s claim that Kirijan kept him from being appointed to teach an honors class and as a soccer coach.

The claims were contained in a lawsuit Bartnicki filed last year. Mannion said evidence to support the claims regarding the teaching and coaching positions is “scant.” He said he must allow them to proceed at this stage of the litigation, however.

Mannion’s ruling relates to a motion to dismiss that the district’s attorney, Jennifer Menichini, filed in January, which presented a strictly legal argument.

While that motion was pending, the district filed a second motion to dismiss the case that is based on evidence that was gathered in pretrial deposition­s.

In the second motion, Menichini said evidence shows the decision to appoint someone else to teach the honors class and as a soccer coach were made by other district officials and Kirijan had no say in the matters.

Bartnicki’s attorney, Cynthia Pollick,will have an opportunit­y to respond to the motion. Mannion will issue a ruling at a later date.

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