TRENTON – A former Lawrenceville School teacher who claims he was forced to resign because he is gay has won an appeals court ruling against the school, and his case will proceed to trial.
The teacher, Ronald Savoie, was forced to resign in 2003, according to the case filing, and then was not allowed to rescind his resignation.
He claims he was discriminated against by the school, an independent, preparatory boarding school, based on his sexual orientation, and that the school’s actions violate state law.
The school officials stated they reasonably believed he was “sending sexually explicit pictures of activities taking place in the basement of his on campus residence over the Internet,” according to the court summary.
The court today sided with Savoie who argues that the school officials’ motivations for forcing his resignation are a matter of fact properly heard by a jury. The appeals court reversed a lower court decision.
Among other achievements, during his tenure he received numerous awards, chaired a department for six years, and was promoted to Director of the Day Student Office, where he advised students, served as a liaison to parents, and oversaw disciplinary matters.
Starting in 1991, Savoie lived in what the court called an openly gay lifestyle with a companion in a school-owned house.
The court stated that Savoie “admitted that there were pictures of him having sex with his partner, there was evidence in the record that taking pictures of one having sex with a partner did not, without more, violate school policy.”
The court said that school officials “were relying on innuendo and twice removed hearsay,” and that in fact a jury might conclude they were actually creating the innuendo and hearsay.
Savoie in his deposition recounts several instances of discriminatoy treatment, the appellate court stated.