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Panther Valley settles termination suit

Published September 05. 2018 12:38PM

Panther Valley School District has settled a lawsuit brought by a former JROTC instructor who was terminated after he lost his certification to teach the program.

The school board recently voted to approve a settlement with retired Maj. Kenneth Markovich, who was the JROTC instructor at Panther Valley High School between 2009-13.

Under the settlement, Markovich would receive $24,000 for releasing all claims against the school district.

“I want to thank the solicitor for handling this and getting it on here for the last time,” board member Gary Porembo said before voting in favor of the settlement.

Markovich had alleged that he was wrongly terminated in June 2013 after the Army withdrew his certification. He further alleged that the district violated his contract in the months before his firing from the district.

A federal lawsuit brought by Markovich on the same grounds was dismissed in 2015, but the case continued in the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas until the recent settlement.

According to court documents, U.S. Army Cadet Command withdrew Markovich’s certification to instruct JROTC in early 2013. That meant they would no longer pay half of his salary, as is customary with JROTC instructors. The school board voted to terminate him in March, after the decertification was affirmed.

Markovich alleged that Cadet Command investigated him after then-Superintendent Rosemary Porembo and high school Principal Joseph Gunnels called to complain about his job performance. Markovich claimed the complaints violated the district’s disciplinary procedures. The complaints were allegedly made while Markovich was out on workers’ compensation for an Achilles injury.

He said they also failed to provide him with a chance to respond to an unsatisfactory rating from a personnel evaluation which occurred in the 2011-12 school year.

Markovich had sought more than $75,000 from the district for his alleged wrongful termination.

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