Woman says Marshall denied her degree because of sexual orientation

By Kyla Asbury | Aug 30, 2016

CHARLESTON – A woman is suing Marshall University Board of Governors after she claims it denied issuing her degree based on her sexual orientation.

Gene Brett Kuhn, Judith Southard, Sandra Bailey, Teresa Eagle, Lisa Heaton and David Pittenger were also named as defendants in the suit.

Lisa Marie Kerr claims Marshall’s College of Education and Professional Development has a practice and de facto policy of permanently denying earning West Virginia teaching credentials to otherwise-qualified candidates, on the sole basis of their sexual orientation, according to a complaint filed July 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Kerr claims she has been permanently denied a degree after the defendants learned of her homosexual orientation and that she had an outstanding record until that point.

Numerous Marshall records, including the school’s own handbook, demonstrate beyond question that Kerr is a qualified teacher who was entitled to receive her earned West Virginia teaching credential in December 2013, according to the suit.

Kerr claims instead, after learning of her sexual orientation, the defendants collaborated in purposeful action to deny her teaching credential and to prevent her from ever receiving that credential and to damage her professional and ethical reputation so severely that she could never become employed as a teacher or in any other professional capacity.

The defendants falsely accused her of committing a federal crime, by gaining unauthorized access to the Boone County computer system and altering student grades; falsely defamed her teaching as so woefully deficient that her supervisors routinely heard her being mocked in public places; falsely defamed her classroom performance as incompetent in 14 specific areas where unanimous previous observers had ranked her as proficient or distinguished; and published the incidents above in bad faith, knowing they were false and baseless, according to the suit.

Kerr claims on Jan. 29, 2014, Pittenger issued Marshall’s final written denial of her requests to have the false statements removed from her public record and to be issued her earned MAT degree and West Virginia teaching credential.

The defendants’ unlawful actions caused a stark, all-encompassing negative change in her life circumstances, according to the suit.

Kerr is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $25 million. She is representing herself.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:16-cv-06589

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