Superintendent sues all-male school board, says she was suspended by misogynist ‘boys club’

A schools superintendent filed a lawsuit against the all-male Ridgefield Park school board, saying they suspended her because of her gender and replaced her with a male.

Angela Bender, 59, is the first woman to be awarded a full-time contract for this position in the district and has been “faced with hostility and discrimination” by the men on the board since. , according to the complaint filed on July 6 in the Superior Court of Bergen. County.

“An unwritten but widely recognized reality in Ridgefield Park schools is that its administration is run by a ‘boys club’, sometimes referred to as ‘the million dollar wall’, which is a stifling barrier for women as a “glass ceiling,” “says the costume.

The education council on June 23 voted “no confidence” against Bender and replaced her with “a less qualified man,” according to the lawsuit.

Bender was suspended with pay and said her contract would not be renewed when it expired on June 30, 2023, the lawsuit says.

“The alleged board basis for ‘no trust’ was never disclosed to Dr Bender, who was improperly kicked out of the executive board session (when) this basis could be discussed,” the lawsuit said.

Bender traces the animosity back to 2018 when, as the principal of an elementary school in the district, she complained to the board of trustees that her salary was discriminatory and violated New Jersey’s Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act .

The lawsuit says board members offered Bender the post of superintendent “in exchange for her abandoning the unequal pay issue, which she accepted in good faith.”

Since taking office, Bender says she has suffered adverse employment actions from a “misogynist majority”, who have treated her “less favorably because of her gender.”

The 36-page complaint names both the Ridgefield Park and Little Ferry school boards for their “malicious abuse.” Little Ferry is represented on the school board because some of its residents attend Ridgefield Park schools.

In addition to gender discrimination, Bender alleges a hostile work environment and violations of state law on the protection of conscientious employees.

She is asking for a jury trial and any lost wages, as well as damages for emotional distress and money to offset the negative tax consequences.

District attorneys released this statement to NJ Advance Media on Tuesday:

The Ridgefield Park School Board is aware of a recent lawsuit filed by Angela Bender. Council denies the allegations and wishes to remind the public that the complaint contains only unproven accusations. The council is eager to present the facts and its defense in court. The board has an obligation to make decisions that ensure the well-being and educational needs of its students. As Dr Bender is aware, she was recently placed on leave due to council concerns about her ability to carry out her professional responsibilities and lead the district effectively. However, the board is unable to comment further at this time as this is an ongoing staffing issue.

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Anthony G. Attrino can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @TonyAttrino. Find on Facebook.

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