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Massena assistant superintendent files lawsuit against school district

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CANTON — An assistant superintendent filed a lawsuit Monday against the Massena Central School District for failing to properly investigate a harassment claim against Superintendent Roger B. Clough II.

The lawsuit comes after a March 2 notice of claim filed by Assistant Superintendent for Business Cynthia M. Yager that alerted the school district a lawsuit was in the works. Later that month, school district officials issued a press statement denying any wrongdoing.

Ms. Yager is asking the school district to release the investigative report prepared in response to her request regarding discrimination, harassment and retaliation. She wants to schedule an evidentiary hearing before the Board of Education to appeal any statements made by Mr. Clough, the lawsuit says.

During this process, Ms. Yager asks the court to preserve her rights of confidentiality regarding her complaints against Mr. Clough.

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Yager has been subject to ongoing discrimination, harassment, bullying, retaliation and a hostile workplace from Mr. Clough for several years. It alleges on May 25 Mr. Clough screamed at Ms. Yager making her fear for her safety.

She accuses board of education President Leonard Matthews on Sept. 8 of inquiring about a possible sexual relationship with a fellow school board member Ronald Faucher. At that time, Mr. Matthews allegedly told her “he knows how to deal with post-menopausal women.” She accuses Mr. Matthews of instigating rumor and speculation about her sex life, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Ms. Yager presented her complaints about Mr. Clough to the board and was assured her identity would remain anonymous. But the lawsuit alleges Mr. Matthews alerted the superintendent of her complaint and the investigation.

On Sept. 6, Mr. Matthews reportedly telephoned Mr. Clough and told him he would not tolerate any more behavior, according to court documents.

After this, Ms. Yager received numerous unmerited and unsubstantiated reprimands and many financial duties were taken from her by Mr. Clough.

When an independent attorney began interviewing board officials, it was in an office next to Mr. Clough who allegedly met with and pressured school board members before the interviews.

The lawsuit said it has cost the district $27,000 to defend complaints against Mr. Clough.

She is represented by Arthur P. Scheuermann of Latham. Her claim asks the court to compel the school district to pay the cost of court proceedings.

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