A long-time special education and cafeteria aide is demanding an answer as to why she was "fired" just days before school opened.
Appearing at the Glen Rock Board of Education's Monday night meeting, Patricia Little, employed by the district for 43 years, accused Principal Dawn Cappadona of forcing her out because of her age.
"I feel I was bullied, I feel it was age discrimination and I would like to know the answers," Little, 78, told the board. "This is a personal vendetta, I feel ... and I want some answers from somebody before I do anything else about this."
Although she said she "loved" working with the students and teachers of Coleman for more than four decades, Little said she wasn't looking for her job back.
A special education aid for two decades before becoming a lunchroom aide in the 1980s, the former employee claimed other aides were rehired or transferred within district at her salary, leading her to believe it wasn't a money issue.
She had another theory, a more personal one.
"Maybe it's because the principal thinks I'm too old for the job," Little said, referring to Cappadona. Little claims her performance evaluations are spotless and she received no warning or cause for dismissal. She received a letter informing her she was no longer employed at Glen Rock two days before school opened.
Cappadona did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
The lunch aide spoke of two alleged incidents she said were indications Cappadona had targeted her.
According to Little, while at the playground last year Cappadona asked her how long she'd been employed in Glen Rock. Upon hearing the answer 43 years, Little claims Cappadona said, "Don't you think you've been here long enough?"
In another alleged incident last year, Little said Cappadona accused her of pushing a student.
"I did not push a child down," Little said to the board Monday night. "When I asked her 'Please tell me who I pushed, when I pushed them and where I pushed them,' she said she was not at liberty to give me that information. And that was that."
Little said the classroom teacher nearby was not aware of the alleged incident taking place.
"I feel I was accused of [an] incident I did not do and nobody can tell me the answers why," Little told the board, adding that she doesn't feel her age has impacted her abilities. "I'm here tonight to ask you, what are the answers to these questions?"
Glen Rock school board president Rona McNabola said Little's remarks on Monday were the first they'd been made aware of the dismissal or her allegations and could not immediately comment.
Interim Superintendent Raymond Albano told Patch at the conclusion of the meeting Little would be provided a reason for her dismissal but also had no further comment.
Little's remarks drew applause from a handful of residents at the Monday board meeting.
"I think the way Pat was unemployed from Glen Rock was a disgrace," Ann Martino told the school board. "I think this is a very odd and disgraceful way of saying 'Thank you Pat for your 43 years of service.'"
Martino continued: "I really hope the board takes the time to find out the answers to this situation. It's shameful, it's a disgrace."
Following the meeting, Little told Patch she was considering filing an age discrimination lawsuit against the district.
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