Accused of Sex With Student, Fired Lower Merion Teacher Sues District
There was a time when the wealthy Lower Merion School District was simply known as one of the best districts in the country. Its more popular rep these days: hotbed of litigation. Less than two weeks ago, the sister of the boy who filed the infamous 2009 invasion of privacy lawsuit against the district filed her own similar suit. And just yesterday, Robert Schanne, the Lower Merion High School physics teacher who was fired in January for having an intimate relationship with a student (or was she his former student?!) and who filed suit against said student earlier this year, sued the district in federal court for employment discrimination.
Schanne, who is 44 and resides in Glen Mills, doesn’t deny having sex with the girl, Jenna Addis (she’s the one on the left). But he maintains that there was no dating or intimate contact until after she graduated from LMHS in 2003. Addis, who now works as a civil engineer in Louisiana, says that her former physics teacher is full of it and that the two were hot and heavy while she was his student, though no one has accused Schanne of doing anything illegal, i.e. they didn’t get freaky until after she had turned 18.
The teacher claims that Addis’s accusations amount to nothing more than sour grapes after their relationship fizzled out. This he-said-she-said battle is playing itself out in Schanne’s defamation suit against Addis, which he filed in June.
In the latest suit, Schanne says he was fired without due process, alleging that he was never given an opportunity to defend himself against Addis’s account. He also claims that the district defamed him when Superintendent Christopher McGinley sent a letter to parents in January, laying out the case against Schanne, even after writing that “it is a long-standing practice of the District to not discuss on-going investigations relating to personnel.” McGinley went on to describe the alleged behavior as “unacceptable and inappropriate.”
And of course, it would be totally unacceptable and inappropriate if true. But given that the accusations came so many years after Addis had graduated and that, by its own admission, the district acknowledged that the evidence did not “suggest any criminal conduct,” perhaps it did jump the gun. In any event, two weeks after sending the letter, the district sent Schanne to the unemployment line.