SOUTH BEND — The discrimination lawsuit filed by Wawasee High School’s Swim Coach, Julie Robinson, against Wawasee Community School Corporation is now in the hands of the U.S. District Court Northern District of Indiana, South Bend. The case was filed in District Court in late January and has been assigned to Judge Jon E. DeGuilio. The filing in Kosciusko Superior Court has been dismissed.
According to the “Notice of filing and Notice of removal” filed with the courts in late January, the Board of School Trusts of the Wawasee Community School Corporation notified Kosciusko Superior Court a copy of its notice of removal of the lawsuit from the court and that the county court “may not proceed further with the case.
Prior to the case being moved to the U.S. District Court, the school corporation filed answers to Robinsons “complaint for damages.” This also has been filed with the federal court.
The matter is still going through the court process.
The original suit, filed in December 2018, followed on the heels of a complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Indianapolis District Office.
Robinson, North Webster, is seeking compensatory damages for being subjected to mental anguish, embarrassment, harassment, anxiety, intimidation, coercion and other injuries.
The school corporation is contending, among other things, state law bars her from recovering punitive damages, that claims occurring more than 180 days before the tort claim notice is received is barred, and that she waived claims by actions or inactions. The school corporation is asking that judgement is given in favor of the defendant.
A charge of discrimination was filed March 30, with the City of Fort Wayne Metro Human Relations Commission. On Nov. 30, the EEOC issued a notice of right to sue.
Robinson alleges in the suit, filed in Kosciusko Superior Court on Dec. 26, that she is a qualified female who is currently the varsity head coach for the school’s swim team, and since approximately 2017, it has been expressed to her in various ways that she would need to defer any decision making about the swim program she coaches or coaching philosophies to the middle school coaches, both of whom are male.
The complaint also states in January 2017, Robinson received a letter from Cory Schutz, Wawasee High School’s athletic director, that can be categorized as a reprimand. It states she has been accused of speaking negatively about the middle school coaches and that this accusation was not discussed with her prior to the letter being sent.
Other issues noted are that in February she was informed she was being investigated and told not to speak to anyone or she would face suspension. The complaint states she was not informed about the subject matter of the investigation, nor was she denied any opportunity to provide any information until the end of their investigation.
It is further alleged that on March 23, Robinson received a memo from Schutz with a list of recommendations that was a result of communication as positivity. However, the recommendations were vague, unmeasurable and were concerned with approachability, communication and positivity. That memo ended with a paragraph explaining that Robinson does a “very good job with a large number of her swimmers” and it expressed that the goal was to have a successful swim program.
Documents note that the swim program at Wawasee has been successful for a number of years under her coaching. She contends in the complaint that Schutz and the two male middle school coaches are paving a way for her termination by creating a false perception of her demeanor and damaging her reputation.
“Plaintiff is being treated differently than male coaches in the athletic department by being asked to defer to the two male middle school coaches,” documents show. Robinson further contends that any changes made to other athletic programs are done so with consultation from the male coaches, which has been denied to her and she is being held to a different standard in regards to approachability and positivity than the male coaches.