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VETERAN SCHOOL WORKER FILES AGE-BIAS COMPLAINT

A 46-year employee of Gaskill Middle School has brought an age-discrimination case against the Niagara Falls School District.

Ernest A. Roundtree, 68, addressed the School Board last week to complain that he feels the administration is trying to force him to retire.

Roundtree, a stationary engineer, said he was suspended without pay for three days in September for alleged abuse of sick time. He presented a note from his physician saying he was being treated for "multiple medical problems."

His complaint to the state Division of Human Rights alleged that the district's director of human resources, Esther Isler-Hamilton, told him that if he brought in a doctor's excuse, the absence would be removed from his record. He told the board this promise was made at a meeting in April.

"When I delivered the excuse to Ms. Hamilton, along with my union representative, she refused to accept it," Roundtree's complaint said. "I lost $500 during the three-day suspension."

Roundtree also complained that he was suspended after an attendance counseling meeting with Personnel Manager Brian A. O'Donnell, and submitted a July 15 letter from him calling for a three-day suspension. Roundtree told the board he had never met O'Donnell.

The officials made no response during the board meeting, but Trustee Mark S. Zito told O'Donnell and Isler-Hamilton publicly at the end of the session, "This board member and this board have a lot of confidence in the work you do."

Roundtree told the board he wants to recover his lost wages. He said: "I would like to inform this administration it was my desire to retire this year. But after this recent incident, I have no intention of retiring."

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