Phila. judge lifts stay on whistleblower suit against charter school under federal investigation

By Jon Campisi | May 15, 2013

A Philadelphia judge this week vacated a three-year-old order staying a whistleblower

suit against a city charter school that is apparently under federal investigation.

Court records show that Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro has allowed the civil action initiated by Adorable Harper against the Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School to proceed, despite the ongoing apparent three-year-plus probe by federal agents into alleged financial wrongdoing at the educational institution.

According to court filings and local news reports, Harper, a past graduate of the charter school who later became the institution’s assistant chief operating officer, claims she was wrongfully terminated the day after federal agents raided the school building in the summer of 2009.

Harper was the one who had contacted authorities about the alleged financial issues a month before the raid.

The woman filed a lawsuit in state court in early 2010 alleging that her former employer retaliated against her because of a complaint Harper made to the U.S. Department of Education outlining what she believed to be misappropriation of local, state and federal funding given to the school.

The court docket in the case shows, however, that defense attorney Edward T. Fisher filed a motion to stay the civil proceedings on April 1, 2010, because of the fact that there was an ongoing criminal investigation.

About a week later, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Allan L. Tereshko granted the defense motion to stay proceedings, the docket shows.

One of Harper’s lawyers, Aaron Freiwald, subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration of Tereshko’s decision to stay the proceedings, but the judge ultimately ruled in favor of the defendants, allowing the say to remain.

There’s little activity in the docket until March 12 of this year, when Freiwald again filed a motion to vacate the court’s stay, arguing that Harper should be allowed to move forward with her case, since the apparent federal criminal investigation seems to be lingering.

Following a brief court hearing on May 13, during which both sides attempted to persuade Quinones Alejandro on their respective positions, the judge ultimately determined that discovery in the civil case could proceed.

More News

The Record Network