LAS VEGAS (CN) – Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy fired a teacher for refusing to be a character witness for a supervisor who was charged with child sexual assault, the teacher claims in court.
Andre Agassi is not a party to the federal lawsuit. Agassi, a high school dropout, founded the highly regarded tuition-free public charter school in 2001 with $35 million of his own money, and raised another $50 million for it.
The alleged victim was not a student at the Agassi Academy, and had no connection with the school.
Chasity Diggs, who is black, sued the academy and three administrators, including the alleged abuser, Shannon Giardino, on Dec. 29.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police on arrested Giardino and her former boyfriend, Jose Adrian Garcia, on May 21, 2015. Giardino, 41 when she was arrested, was charged with three counts of sexual assault and one count of child abuse of an underage female family member.
The academy fired Giardino in May. Her LinkedIn profile indicates she is an in-home consultant for an online scrapbooking business.
Diggs claims in the lawsuit that Giardino “was accused of sexual misconduct against a minor child, which teacher was eventually convicted of such act.” Courthouse News could not confirm the conviction: the Clark County Court website has been down since the New Year weekend, and no official could be found to confirm the conviction. Giardino’s arrest and firing was widely reported, but Courthouse News could not find any reports of a conviction or plea.
Garcia, also 41 when arrested, was charged with three counts of sexual assault of a minor younger than and four counts of lewdness with a child.
The girl told police the sexual abuse started when she was in fourth grade and continued until she was in eighth grade, and that Garcia continued assaulting her after Giardino stopped.
Diggs claims Giardino and other administrators discriminated against her due to her race, for reporting legal violations, and for refusing to act as a character witness for Giardino.
After a string of procedural and substantive allegations in her lawsuit, Diggs says that she “was retaliated against was in her refusal to cooperate with protecting a teacher, and her supervisor, Ms. Giardino, who was accused of sexual misconduct against a minor child, which teacher was eventually convicted of such act.”
She claims the school retaliated against her by increasing her workload, by “contriving to give her spurious and unjustified negative reviews,” and that she found out later that it had “forged her name onto documents for the school.”
It fired her in April, Diggs says, after she revealed she was pregnant.
She seeks lost wages and punitive damages for tortious discharge, discrimination, defamation, unjust enrichment and emotional distress.
The general counsel for the Andre Agassi Foundation, Francisco Aguilar, told Courthouse News: “We are going to defend this case pretty aggressively,” and declined further comment.
Diggs’ attorney, Telia U. Williams, could not be reached by telephone.
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