Lawyer: Principal's lawsuit over firing is about preventing child abuse

By Claudia Balthazar | Dec 14, 2018

The former principal at Changing Lives Academy, a private school in Orange County, recently filed suit in the Orange County Circuit Court against the school, claiming he was fired in retaliation for reporting a teacher for alleged child abuse.

Former Principal Isaac Roman and his wife were fired after Roman reported a teacher to the Florida Department of Children and Families following a parent’s complaint about a teacher hurting their child, according to a posting on the Orlando Sentinel website

Richard Celler Esq., managing partner of Celler Legal and one of the lawyers backing Roman in the suit, recently told the Florida Record that Roman was never provided with a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for his termination.

“The timing of his objections to what he reasonably perceived to be illegal conduct and his termination are sufficiently close, so as to create a temporal nexus between the two events,” Celler said.

According to the Orlando Sentinel report, the school’s owner, Jipsy Reyes, refuted the claim that the school ignored a child abuse complaint. She refused to comment about the lawsuit, which alleges that Changing Lives Academy violated the Florida Whistleblower's Act. 

Roman is seeking lost wages as well as other compensation in his lawsuit, according to the story.

“This isn’t a case about whether this child was abused or not,” Celler said. “This is a case about making sure procedural safeguards are followed to ensure that children are safe in centers like this -- and reporting requirements are followed to prevent abuse.”

Celler stated that the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) could have easily investigated the situation to see if there was evidence of child abuse, and that covering it up made the situation much worse. 

Roman reported the incident because, as a principal, it is illegal not to report complaints about child abuse.  

“Every parent should have the peace of mind that the laws are being followed in the day-care centers in which they decide to send their children,” Celler said.

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