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posted: 11/6/2013 5:36 PM

District 304 settles lawsuit with former principal for $287,000

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  • Margaret Pennington

    Margaret Pennington


Geneva School District 304 has settled a four-year-old discrimination lawsuit with a former principal for $287,000.

Margaret Pennington, a former principal at Heartland Elementary School, sued in June 2009, arguing she was underpaid given her 27 years of experience, and unfairly assigned an administrative job after the district decided not to renew her contract.

According to a nine-page settlement agreement obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the district will pay $283,502 to Pennington for salaries she would have earned from the 2008-2009 school year through the 2011-2012 school year but does not admit "fault, liability or responsibility."

The district also will pay $3,498.76 toward retirement for Pennington, $73,500 of the lump sum will go to Pennington's attorney, Ruth Major, and the district will deduct all applicable taxes from the remaining $210,000.

In her lawsuit, Pennington argued the she was discriminated against because of her age and gender.

She argued that younger men who were hired as principals at the same time as her, who had less experience, were paid more.

Pennington was 50 when hired as principal at Heartland in 2008 at a salary of $92,500, according to her lawsuit. She argued she should have been paid at least $108,321, which was the amount earned by two other principals.

The settlement said Pennington would be paid: $118,500 for the 2008-2009 school year; $125,610 for 2009-2010; $133,146.60 for 2010-2011; and $94,789.40 for part of the 2011-2012 school year for a prorated salary of $132,501.

"The parties agree that the salaries would have been paid as allocated had the employment issues not arisen," read part of the agreement.

The settlement also includes a clause for a joint statement and agreement that none of the sides make any comments to disparage each other.

James Petrungaro, attorney for the district, issued this statement: "Geneva Community Unit School District 304 and Dr. Margaret Pennington are pleased to announce that they have mutually resolved their legal disputes. The school district and Dr. Pennington remain focused on and dedicated to helping students achieve their maximum potential in safe and positive school environments."

The agreement was reached in late September and signed by Pennington in early October.

Both sides went to federal Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman Oct. 18 to have the lawsuit dismissed, according to court records.

A secretary for Pennington's attorney had no comment on the settlement.

Efforts to reach Pennington were not immediately successful.

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