5 claim discrimination against Greensburg Central Catholic

Greensburg, USA - An attorney this week filed five race discrimination lawsuits against Greensburg Central Catholic High School and the Diocese of Greensburg.

Filed in federal court, the suits claim discrimination on sports teams, in the way discipline in the school was handled and even retaliation against a student's father for filing a complaint.

"There's no question. There definitely seems to be a problem," said attorney Keenan Holmes.

Diocese officials would not comment on pending litigation.

According to Jerome M. Zufelt, a diocesan spokesman, there were 495 students enrolled at Greensburg Central Catholic last year. Mr. Zufelt could not provide a racial breakdown of students yesterday afternoon.

"Clearly, we do not discriminate in terms of race, creed or even religion," he said.

But Mr. Holmes, who represents seven plaintiffs against the school, said there is a hostile educational environment there and that students regularly direct racial epithets at minorities.

"None of these problems occurred until a new administration came in," Mr. Holmes said.

Trent D. Bocan was hired as the superintendent for diocesan schools in 2006. Donald Favero became the principal in October 2007.

Of the complaints filed yesterday, two African-American students who were being recruited for college football claimed that they were not played, even though their coaches knew recruiters were there to watch them.

Daunte Johnson, of Monessen, claims discrimination, as do Roy and Tina Aiken of Greensburg, on behalf of their son, Tyler.

Another student, Robert A. Williams, who the lawsuit said is half Chinese and half black, claims that he was accused of underaged drinking and was suspended for 10 days without ever being tested to see if he had consumed alcohol.

The lawsuit contends that he was forced to withdraw from the school to avoid expulsion, and that later school officials reported to two other schools he wanted to attend that he had been involved in an alleged drug transaction.

Another parent, Deborah Cook, said she was forced to voluntarily withdraw her son or he would be expelled. She claims the school provided her with no reason other than that "teachers were afraid of him" and could no longer educate him.

In addition, Edward Day Jr., of Jeannette, the father of another student who had already filed a lawsuit against the diocese, said that he was told he was no longer permitted to attend school sporting events, though he still had a child enrolled there. That lawsuit accuses the diocese of retaliation.