THE MAGAZINE

Retaliation

Louis Cioffi worked as a part-time social studies teacher and athletic director for the Averill Park Central School District from 1981 to 1999. In June 1999, the school district promoted Cioffi to full-time athletic director. In his new position, Cioffi supervised Kevin Earl, the district's football coach. Over the three years Cioffi supervised Earl, he consistently complained about Earl's teaching methods. In early 2001, a parent complained about disturbing events that occurred in the boys football locker room, including the hazing and sexual assault of younger players by older students. The school district took steps to address the situation, including changing the policy of supervision in the locker room. However, the school failed to relate the hazing incidents to the other parents of the students who had been assaulted. The court noted that sexual assaults in a high school and the possible cover-up by school administrators are certainly within the scope of public interest. Further, while the school board planned to eliminate Cioffi's position before his press conference, the official decision was not made until after the press conference, making the retaliation claim valid. (Cioffi v. Averill Park Central School District, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, No. 04-5593-cv, 2006)

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