Another Philadelphia School District employee who was put on paid leave during a district inquiry into leaks about a $7.5 million no-bid contract for security cameras has signaled he intends to file a slander and libel suit against district officials.
Augustine Pescatore, a commander in the district's Office of School Safety, filed preliminary documents in Common Pleas Court this week indicating he plans to sue the School Reform Commission; former Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman; Estelle G. Matthews, the former top administrator in human resources; and other district officials.
With the filing, Pescatore becomes the third district administrator who was placed on administrative leave a year ago to begin legal proceedings against the district.
Pescatore, a former city police officer who joined the School District several years ago, was among six administrators suspended with pay Dec. 13, 2010, while the district investigated leaks about the no-bid contract awarded to IBS Communications Inc., a small minority-owned firm then based in Mount Airy. The contract was for surveillance cameras and consoles at 19 schools on the state's list of persistently dangerous schools.
IBS received the work after Ackerman, according to district sources, abruptly directed her staff to have IBS replace a firm that had begun preliminary work on the project.
Pescatore and three other district administrators were permitted to return to work in January. He is still employed by the district, schools officials said.
His attorney, Kenneth L. Chotiner, said he does not comment on pending litigation. District spokesman Fernando Gallard also declined comment.
The other legal actions were brought by the two administrators whom Matthews moved to fire.
John L. Byars, former chief procurement officer, has challenged the district's efforts to oust him. He filed court papers last month signaling he intends to bring a slander and libel suit against the district, the SRC, Ackerman, Matthews, and others.
Francis X. Dougherty, former deputy chief business officer, whom the SRC fired in April, filed preliminary documents in June indicating he intends to sue for wrongful termination under the state's whistle-blower protection law.