Taegu American School teacher who filed lawsuit is fired
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Stephen J. Bogdan, the Taegu American School teacher who filed a lawsuit in late 2005 accusing former principal Helen Bailey of targeting him for harassment, has been fired.
Bogdan said Tuesday that his lawyer is seeking a court order to temporarily freeze the firing, which is to take effect April 14 — a week’s extension from Bogdan’s original April 7 termination date. His lawyer also has asked for an emergency hearing into the matter.
Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Korea assistant superintendent Peter Grenier on Tuesday confirmed that Bodgan’s termination date has been extended to April 14 but declined further comment. Other DODDS officials declined comment, citing the pending litigation.
The teacher said DODDS-Korea officials contended they fired him because he failed to meet terms of a job performance improvement plan they’d placed him under in October.
“I’m waiting to hear from my attorney as to the disposition of his motion,” Bogdan said.
“I’m ready for packing. I would like not to … but I’m ready to pack.”
Bogdan began as a DODDS teacher in August 1986. He’d worked at Taegu American, on Camp George in Daegu, since 1994, teaching music for kindergarten through 12th grade until last year, he said, when Bailey reassigned him to teaching eighth- through 12th-grade humanities.
The motion was filed in U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla., where earlier Bogdan’s lawyer filed the lawsuit against Bailey, since transferred to a DODDS post on Okinawa, and other DODDS officials.
The lawsuit accuses Bailey of violating Bogdan’s privacy rights by discussing his employment status, including the prospect he’d be fired, in a phone conversation and before her son, who was one of Bogdan’s students.
The lawsuit contends that later, on March 1, 2005, in Bogdan’s sixth-grade general music class, Bailey’s son asked, “Are you gonna be fired next year and are they gonna get someone else to teach music?”
Two weeks later, Bogdan said, he presented Bailey with a written grievance accusing her of violating his privacy.
His complaint contends Bailey retaliated by targeting him for immediate harassment, including sending school officials to his classroom to monitor his teaching performance and assigning him to teach a subject in which he lacked ability and thus would be vulnerable to charges of “low competency in that new subject.”
Also named in the suit are Kathleen Stander, then an assistant principal at Taegu American but since named its principal; DODDS; and Joseph D. Tafoya, Department of Defense Education Activity director.
Bogdan in January was put on administrative leave with pay and told he faced dismissal for allegedly failing to improve his job performance.
In March, school officials notified him he was fired effective April 7, he said. He later asked DODDS-Korea superintendent Charles Toth to extend the date.
Bogan said unless the court temporarily freezes the firing, he’ll have to depart South Korea by April 14.