New Castle News

March 20, 2014

Attorney says someone trying to discredit Razzano

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Robert Razzano’s attorney believes there is a concerted effort by someone to discredit his client.

Razzano, 52, the New Castle Junior High School principal, has been placed on paid administrative leave while the district investigates several alleged sexual harassment complaints against him.

Through his attorney, Avrum Levicoff of the Levicoff, Silko & Deemer law firm of Pittsburgh, Razzano is suing the New Castle Area School District and its superintendent, John J. Sarandrea, claiming it is not following the district’s harassment policy in properly investigating the alleged complaints.

The filing makes public a letter that Sarandrea had written to Razzano on March 11, setting a due process hearing date for 10 a.m. March 18.

The filing also includes a list of detailed allegations, which, according to the school district, were lodged against Razzano by fellow district employees. Most of those do not have specific dates attached.

The letter by Sarandrea states:  “Dear Mr. Razzano: It has been brought to my attention that you have engaged in conduct contrary to the district’s unlawful harassment policy in your interactions with other school district employees. Your conduct includes unwanted physical touching of necks, backs and shoulders, inappropriate verbal comments of a sexual nature, suggestive comments about an individual’s dress or body, vulgar statements and innuendos.

“Your conduct has also created an intimidating and offensive work environment. Attached is a list of the individuals who reported such conduct, together with a summary of the conduct reported,” the letter says.

The letter further states: “Please be advised that this matter could result in administration imposing disciplinary action, and/or requesting the school board to terminate your employment with the New Castle Area School District.”

The letter continues, “This is a very serious matter, which could adversely affect your continued employment with the New Castle Area School District.”

Levicoff said yesterday that he is investigating whether there is an effort by someone in the district to solicit people to make complaints against Razzano.

“It seems to me that all of a sudden, there’s this somewhat of an outpouring of negative assertions, most of which are utterly false,” he said in a phone interview.  “It’s not only the falsity, but the immediacy, all of a sudden.  In my experience it doesn’t happen that way. I have vast experience in the handling of employee misconduct in the workplace. Unless there’s something driving it, you don’t all of a sudden get an outpouring. In fairness, I’m just beginning to look into this.”

He noted that his lawsuit against the district is not directed at anyone “who may have made a concerted effort to bring this about.”

“The school district is suddenly the recipient of all this,” Levicoff continued. “They’re supposed to look into it according to a specific policy. I’m not sure they did, but I think they’re going to, now. I think there’s somebody behind this, driving this. I haven’t sued whoever that is yet.”

He noted of the allegations that some of them are severe.

“Suffice it to say, those accounts are not accurate  in any detail. I’m confident that the district’s investigation is going to exonerate him from any significant misconduct,” Levicoff said, adding, “We’re not going to sit idly by while anybody tries to slander him and ruin his good name.”