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Former principal cites discrimination, harassment, retaliation, in lawsuit against charter school

Posted at 6:15 PM, Jul 01, 2024

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — At Pinecrest Academy in Twin Falls, the early days were bumpy. Launching in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, and without an official home, the school relied on principal Denise Kozlowski Schimacher to pass the hurdles of being a new school. Now, Schumacher says she faced discrimination and retaliation before being pushed out of the role.

  • The complaint states that the Pinecrest board voted on March 29, 2022 to accept Schumacher's resignation, Schumacher says she never offered her resignation.
  • The complaint states that Schumacher was being paid a lower wage than less-qualified male principals in the same organization.
  • After obtaining a restraining order against a parent teacher organization member, the complaint states that the PTO member encouraged the board to fire Schumacher.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Pinecrest Academy in Twin Falls opened in 2020, which is when Denise Kozlowski Schumacher was hired as the charter school's first principal.

Now, she's suing the school and some of its employees, alleging gender discrimination, retaliation, and conspiracy.

In court documents she claims she experienced a "pattern of disparate conditions of employment."

And was frequently "subjected to disparaging treatment from her male superiors."

The complaint also outlines concerns that Schumacher was paid significantly less than a male principal within the same company who she considers less qualified.

Schumacher says she endured harassing behavior from a member of the school's parent teacher organization, and ultimately obtained a restraining order.

That's when she says the board acted to remove her during a meeting she wasn’t invited to. In March 2022, they voted to accept her resignation, which she said she did not offer.

After the vote, parents were informed she resigned.

Within weeks, court documents state the school hired a new male principal — with higher pay.

Schumacher's attorney declined to comment on the case, which is currently in federal hearing for equal opportunity violations.

Pinecrest Academy of Idaho, LLC, responded to the complaint, denying each of the allegations against them.