Two Men Allege Pittston Area Violated Their First Amendment Rights
Two men who have served as security officers for years at the Pittston Area School Distinct claim in a federal lawsuit they have not been called to work since backing an outsider school board candidate in the 2017 election.
Charles Jones II, of Avoca, and Donald F. Toole, of Old Forge, allege the district violated their First Amendment rights to political free speech.
Jones worked for the district for nine years, while Toole was employed there for four years.
The men admit they had no set work schedule, but were called to work between 20 to 40 hours a week during their tenures until the May 2017 primary election.
They claim their support of Dr. Lori Cooper cost them their jobs.
Jones was politically active, while Toole merely put up a yard sign for her.
The lawsuit described Cooper as an “outsider” who opposed the ruling majority on the nine-person board.
Jones claims supporters of the majority board once threatened “you’re done” when they saw him putting up signs for Cooper.
Cooper ended being the high voter getter in the primary election and won a seat on the board in the general election, the lawsuit notes.
At a June 2017 school board meeting, Jones said he inquired about his position.
He claims his supervisor said, “I just want you to know, it’s not me, it’s politics.” The person also told Toole his termination was due to “politics,” the lawsuit says.
Efforts to reach district solicitor Sam Falcone were not immediately successful.
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