Ex-Charter School Principal Claims Wrongful Firing in Idaho

March 18, 2013

The former co-principal of a southwestern Idaho charter school is suing the school and its board chairman for wrongful dismissal because she says she was fired after reporting that the school was violating admission lottery rules.

Monika Gangwer, who worked at Legacy Charter School, filed the lawsuit this month in Canyon County’s 3rd District Court, The Idaho Press-Tribune reported.

Gangwer alleged that Rebecca Stallcop, the creator of the Harbor School Method used by the charter school, told her to jump a student ahead on a post-lottery waiting list, so she complained to Legacy Charter Board Chairman Bart McKnight.

The lawsuit named Stallcop, McKnight and the school and seeks past, present and future wages and other damages.

A message left with a phone number listed for McKnight was not immediately returned. Brian Julian, the attorney representing Liberty Charter School, said they had not yet been served with the lawsuit though he was familiar with the allegations.

Gangwer asked to be released from her contract so she could take another full-time job with another school district, he said. “The charter school denies that it ever forced her to resign, asked her to resign or was in any manner complicit with her decision to choose another job.”

Charter schools use public money, but they have more flexibility over the curriculum they offer and the teaching methods they use compared to most traditional public schools. State rules require a lottery program for admissions to help ensure that every child who is interested in attending a charter school gets an equal shot at winning a seat in the classroom, though the children of charter school founders and siblings of enrolled charter school students typically get their own attendance lottery, giving them a better chance at enrollment.

In her lawsuit, Gangwer contended that in August 2012, a student was the 91st person on the waiting list for Legacy Charter School and 86th on the waiting list for an affiliated school, Liberty Charter School. Gangwer said Stallcop told her to give the student a spot in the kindergarten class because there had been an error in the lottery process.

Gangwer maintained that the student wasn’t eligible for the spot and shouldn’t be allowed to jump ahead of others on the waiting list. She said she brought her concerns to McKnight and as a result was told that she violated the chain of command.

Gangwer said she was asked a few weeks later to sign an agreement to work from home for full salary and benefits, and that the agreement required her to keep the terms of the agreement

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