VAN ALSTYNE — A former Van Alstyne Middle School teacher has sued the district for what she says was age discrimination that resulted in the district not renewing her contract.

VAN ALSTYNE — A former Van Alstyne Middle School teacher has sued the district for what she says was age discrimination that resulted in the district not renewing her contract.


Deborrah Skaggs filed the suit in the federal district court in Sherman in April. The suit says that Skaggs worked for the district from August of 1998 through June of 2015. She was 62 when her contract with the district was not renewed. She said that happened after she refused repeated suggestions by Principal Ryan Coleman that she retire to spend more time with her family.


Skaggs said she received glowing performance reviews from 1998 through 2011 but that stopped in 2012. In that review, she said she received a significantly lower score. She was put on a growth plan for fall 2012, she said in the suit, and was placed on one every year after that. She said she was subjected to intense scrutiny and was required to do things that younger, less-experienced teachers were not required to do. She said the growth plans became "more onerous each year" and often "contradicted the comments and scores found in her (performance reviews)." She said she was told she was not going to be allowed to return the next year in February of 2015. The suit said that Coleman suggested that Skaggs retire or resign "in lieu of termination." Instead, Skaggs went to the school board, the suit says, and told the board that she thought she had been discriminated against based on her age. The board upheld the decision not to renew Skaggs’ contract for the next school year.


When asked about the lawsuit, Van Alstyne Superintendent John Spies said the district does not comment on personnel issues. In the answer the district filed in the case, the district admitted that some factual items stated in the suit are correct like the years that Skaggs taught at the school and the years that both Coleman and Spies went to work for the district, but denied that anyone at the district discriminated against Skaggs. The district’s answer stated, "Van Alstyne ISD asserts that there were legitimate, non-discriminatory and legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons for the employment action(s) being challenged in plaintiff’s complaint."


There is a scheduling conference set for the case at 11 a.m. on June 15 in the federal district court in Sherman. Skaggs has asked for a jury trial. The suit says she wants to be rehired or to be paid for lost wages, damages, lawyers fees and court costs.