Former Robert Bycroft instructor assistant files wrongful termination lawsuit

LISBON – A former employee of the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in Common Pleas Court.

Patricia Polite, U.S. Route 30, Lisbon, along with her husband, Ralph Polite, are accusing the board of wrongfully terminating her from her position as a state-licensed instructor assistant at the Robert Bycroft School in Lisbon.

According to court documents, Polite had worked for the board in her position for 14 years and was diagnosed as suffering from anxiety depressive disorder in 2006.

On May 1, 2013, the lawsuit claims Polite had an extreme and debilitating panic attack while at work. She was immediately hospitalized at Salem Community Hospital. Her physician placed her off work from May 1, 2013 to May 31, 2013.

Additionally, the lawsuit states Polite had feelings of “extremely upset-anxiety out of control” and the “walls closing in.” On June 17, 2013 she was re-diagnosed as having “industrial induced acute anxiety, with anxiety, depression.”

On May 3, 2013, the board reportedly placed Polite on administrative leave. According to a letter reportedly written by Assistant Director of Education Andrew Garber and dated May 3, 2013, the leave was pending “investigation into allegations regarding your potential misconduct.” The letter also reportedly referred to Polite’s actions of May 1, 2013.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Raymond Masek of Warren, claims Superintendent William A. Devon and the board actively sought Polite’s resignation after her month-long disability leave. A settlement offer was reportedly made for Polite’s resignation, effective Aug. 2, 2013, but she refused to sign the letter provided by the board and Devon. She was then fired from her position.

The lawsuit seeks in excess of $25,000 for both back and future wages, severe emotional distress and humiliation among other issues.

Not mentioned in the lawsuit is the fact Polite was one of two spokeswomen for the Robert Bycroft Education Association crisis team during a lengthy negotiation with the board, which began in June 2012 and continued through March 2013.