The East Greenbush schools superintendent has filed a formal complaint alleging that members of her school board are discriminating against her because she had twins in January.
After Superintendent Angela Nagle returned from maternity leave, she said the board offered to buy her out of her contract if she would “leave immediately.”
She refused and continued working. She is still working at the district.
Her attorney, Ryan Finn, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging pregnancy discrimination and gender discrimination.
“We think it’s more than pregnancy discrimination. We believe she’s been stereotyped as a woman,” Finn said.
Board President Shay Harrison adamantly denied the allegations.
“The board denies any misconduct or any violation of Dr. Nagle’s contract rights with regard to this matter and will review its response when it meets with counsel,” he said in a statement. “The board will issue a more detailed statement contesting these claims and setting forth its plan of action in the next 10 days.”
Nagle’s allegations are “erroneous and misleading,” he added.
School board member Susan Garrigan-Piela said it was inappropriate to discuss the matter the day before the budget vote.
“I am focused on the budget vote,” she said. “Right now, the number one priority is passing the budget.”
Nagle has three children under the age of four. When her first child was born nearly four years ago, school board members seemed supportive, Finn said.
She could tell the difference this time as soon as she announced her pregnancy in October, he said.
“It seemed like she was being isolated. Nobody was really talking to her at all,” he said.
Some school board members seemed to think having three young children would be too distracting for her to work, he said.
Due to complications, she had to stop working on Dec. 2, although she continued to post messages on the website and do other work while on bedrest.
Her twins were born on Jan. 6 and she returned to work on March 16, after the traditional three-month maternity leave.
But by then, Finn said, some school board members were “icy” when they spoke with her.
Finally, she called a meeting with the board president to discuss the issue, he said.
“The board president’s response was, ‘I think you need to talk to your attorney,’ ” Finn said.
In April, the school board offered a buyout.
The buyout would have paid her for the rest of her contract, which expires in June 2016.
“Why would they buy her out? Why would they spend taxpayer money?” Finn said. “We’re really trying to wrap our heads around this to find some reason other than discrimination. There’s simply nothing else that makes sense.”
He added that Nagle has positive performance reviews and no disciplinary incidents. She has led the school district since 2008.
“There’s no indication whatsoever that she did anything wrong,” Finn said.
Requests for comment from other school board members were not returned.