SOUTH BEND — Counsel for Julie A. Robinson in her lawsuit against the board of school trustees of Wawasee Community School Corporation, filed an amended complaint in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana South Bend Division March 28.
That amended complaint states Robinson was retaliatory terminated in March 2019 during the pending litigation for failing to adhere to sex stereotypes, for speaking on issues of public concern, for refusing to participate in activity for which she could be held liable and for bringing action in court.
Documents state she began employment with the school corporation in 2008 and was discharged from her employment in 2019 after successfully overseeing and managing the Wawasee High School swim program and performed within the reasonable expectations of her employer.
It is noted in the complaint she consistently received positive employee reviews and athletes in her program were regularly successful at statewide meets and competitions.
The document states in 2009, the school pool in which her swimming program athletes practiced underwent a renovation. That year she began to notice concerning health issues in her athletes related to the use of the pool. These issues included respiratory illness requiring medical attention and loss of body hair.
Robinson, it is noted, repeatedly reported the issues of public concerns throughout 2012, including a May 2012 board meeting, to executive and decision-making personnel of the board, including the school superintendent, board members and athletic director. She was told there were no issues and was told the problem was her raising of issues of public concern in what was perceived by administration to be non-feminine manner.
Documents state the school’s superintendent, Dr. Tom Edington, told her she needed to be more “approachable,” needed to be “softer” and needed to be more “like a woman.”
While limited modifications were made to the pool in late 20012, it was after this time the superintendent allegedly criticized her for “not being what he viewed as sufficiently grateful to him.” However, athletes continued to experience health issues related to use of the pool and she continued to report the issues up until the time of her termination in 2019.
The suit alleges as well when Cory Schutz was hired as athletic director in 2016, he began pressing for Robinson’s termination in order to replace her with a male coach. It is also alleged he continued to reprimand Robinson and reduced resources available to the high school swimming program to force her out, and expected her to defer to two male middle school swimming coaches in operations of the program and mesh her philosophies of coaching with that of the middle school coaches.
Additionally it is noted when advocating for her athletes to have access to adequate resources and have safe swimming conditions she was stereotyped by the administration as not being “sufficiently feminine in her approach,” she was expected to be a woman with demur, quiet and deferential to male employees of the board.
Robinson was threatened with suspension by the administration in February 2018 and was reprimanded by the board’s administration in March 2018 after being notified she was referred to as a “real bitch” for raising issues concerning the school pool.
Counsel for the school corporation has responded to the complaint, denying any of the allegations and arguing some of the statements are argumentative, lacking sufficient information.