Susan Brennan, a former West Ottawa High School teacher, has filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit against the Michigan district, claiming her firing two years ago was due to her previous job as a stripper, the Grand Rapids Press reports.
Brennan, 42, was hired in 2000 and received tenure eight years later. Her brief stint as a stripper began in 2006, while she was on a medical leave of absence from the school. WOOD-TV reports that according to a 2010 document she sent to the school board, Brennan and her then-husband were facing bankruptcy, and she allowed him to pressure her into taking a job as an exotic dancer at nightclubs in Grand Rapids and Lansing.
The lawsuit states that in December 2006, her ex-husband’s girlfriend called the district and said Brennan, a mother of three, had worked as a stripper before becoming a teacher.
“The call was made in an attempt to gain custody of minor children,” attorney Richard Meier said, according to the Grand Rapids Press.
The suit alleges Brennan was put on leave, and that the school tried to “coerce” her into resigning. Upon returning from leave in 2007, she was asked to sign a waiver indicating she would not sue.
Brennan received positive performance reviews through 2008 and was granted tenure, earning $73,744 a year, according to a previous report by the Grand Rapids Press.
Beginning in 2009, however, her evaluations became increasingly negative. Documents obtained by the Press show Brennan was absent 26 days in 2008-09, more than the allotment for personal and sick days. The teacher claims the absences were necessary for legal issues related to her divorce and a custody battle.
Brennan was eventually fired in 2010 following accusations that she failed to teach her students the prescribed curriculum, failed to use acceptable grading practices, used unsuitable materials, was frequently absent and used a cell phone during class. WOOD-TV reports Brennan also paid a student to help her with her teaching duties and transported said student home from school.
She claims in the lawsuit that her male colleagues were not disciplined for using cell phones in class, and that the school retaliated when she cited gender discrimination.
The suit also alleges the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the Press, Brennan suffers from a disability that affects organizational skills. She had previously used a district-approved computer program to help organize her work, but was told in 2008-09 she could no longer use it.
WHTC reports Brennan had filed a similar civil lawsuit in Ottawa County Circuit Court last year, but it was dismissed.