Lawsuit accuses Hilton Head Christian headmaster, principal of age discrimination

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 20, 2012 

A former Hilton Head Christian Academy teacher is suing the school, its headmaster and a principal, alleging age discrimination and breach of contract.

Julie Bangert, 65, was fired in 2011, according to the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court, which alleges that headmaster Matt Skinner made demeaning comments and treated Bangert differently than other teachers.

It also says he undermined her authority by encouraging parents of her students to complain to Melanie Hilton, then the interim lower-school principal, rather than to Bangert, as the school's policies required. Hilton was Bangert's supervisor, and Bangert sought the permanent lower-school principal position. The suit also says Hilton discouraged Bangert from applying for the lower-school principal position in an attempt to cover up that Hilton had helped a student cheat on tests in Bangert's class. The suit alleges that Skinner and Hilton fabricated claims about Bangert and asked her to change students' grades.

Skinner and Hilton referred comment to their attorney, Trey Thompson. An attempt to reach Thompson was unsuccessful.

According to the suit, Bangert had worked at the school since 2002, was lower-school teacher of the year in 2006 and was a teacher for more than 30 years.

The suit also alleges breach of contract, arguing that Bangert was fired in October 2011 without cause or compensation for the remainder of her contract, which would have ended in August 2012.

Bangert seeks back wages, compensation for emotional pain and other compensation. Her attorney, John Bowen, said they have tried repeatedly since last November to resolve the dispute but haven't heard from the school.

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