School accused of retaliation against mom is settling case

Posted at 4:27 PM, Mar 01, 2022

ROCHESTER, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit parent who claimed she lost her job forcriticizing COVID-19 policies in local schools has reached a tentative deal to settle a lawsuit against the district, a lawyer said Tuesday.

Controversy over how the Rochester district handled outspoken parents continues to simmer in the Oakland County community. There were calls for the resignation of Superintendent Bob Shaner and other officials at a meeting Monday.

“We have to address ... the abusive and bullying behavior by our district that has been condoned by our board of education,” Andrew Weaver told the school board.

Elena Dinverno participated in Facebook groups that were in favor of reopening schools for in-person instruction in 2020. She said she frequently questioned the school board’s decisions.

Dinverno filed a lawsuit last spring, saying her free speech rights were violated when she lost her job after a school board member contacted her employer.

In a court filing, the district now acknowledges that a deputy superintendent, not a school board member, made a call, though attorneys deny any wrongdoing.

Dinverno’s attorney, Deborah Gordon, and the district said the lawsuit was being settled. No details were disclosed yet.

“They have zero business policing her speech,” Gordon said in 2021 when the lawsuit was filed.

Rochester school board member Joe Pittel is proposing an anti-retaliation policy that would bar district officials from taking action against people who make a “good-faith complaint” or question policies.