School Superintendent Hurled Stapler & Papers at Employee: Lawsuit

The recently terminated curriculum coordinator for Fairmont School District filed a federal lawsuit against the superintendent.

A stapler. Credit: Janet Hosey
A stapler. Credit: Janet Hosey
The Fairmont School District superintendent threw a stapler and an envelope full of papers at an employee, according to a lawsuit filed this week in federal court.

Debra Acanfora, the recently terminated curriculum coordinator for the school district, named the Fairmont board of education and district Superintendent Sonya Whitaker in her lawsuit.

Acanfora, a Tinley Park resident, accused Whitaker of not only throwing the stapler and envelope at her, but also working to wrongfully deprive her of her job. Acanfora also claimed Whitaker connected when she threw the stapler and envelope at her.

The stapler "struck the side of (Acanfora's) body as she turned away from it," the lawsuit said, and the "envelope full of papers (thrown) like a Frisbee" hit her in the head.

The district hired Acanfora in September 2012, the suit said, and her contract was renewed last year to run through June.

Whitaker started giving Acanfora trouble as early as November 2012, the lawsuit said, starting with "commentary regarding (her) physical appearance and choice of clothing, despite the professional appearance (Acanfora) maintained at" the district.

Acanfora also "was subject to fits of rage by Whitaker including screaming that took place in front of other staff at Fairmont and community members," the lawsuit said.

In March, Whitaker recommended to the board that Acanfora's contract not be renewed again, the suit said. Shortly after, Acanfora was accused of stealing a mail return receipt and placed on administrative leave, according to the lawsuit, which contends Acanfora merely moved the papers so personal information would be out of the public eye.

Then, Acanfora "received a notice from Whitaker that she was being recommended for immediate dismissal at a hearing to be conducted on April 10, 2014, solely for moving the return receipt," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims Acanfora "has a present entitlement to her occupation by virtue of her contract and is being terminated before her contract expires simply as a result of moving sensitive documents out of public view and for no violations of her contract with the board."

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