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Accused principal not satisfied with dismissed lawsuit

Attorney for accused principal, Crystal Boling-Barton, says his client is disappointed the discrimination case against her was dismissed.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — This week a federal judge agreed to dismiss the discrimination lawsuit against McKinley High School principal, Crystal Boling-Barton.

Barton's attorney tells 2 On Your Side, "When the lawsuit gets withdrawn by the plaintiff and the co-defendant district wants it dismissed, I think that's a vindication. So whoever thinks that the allegations and complaint had any merit, certainly shouldn't feel that way when they pull the plug on their own lawsuit."

But the New York Civil Liberties Union attorney, Robert Hodgson, that represented the plaintiff, Byshop Elliott, says, "Our position has always been that this case is about achieving remedies that are going to protect the students of the school district and the students of McKinley. So now that we have that in place, so long as the district takes all the agreed upon steps to ensure that the rights of LGBTQ students are protected there. There's just no need to pursue additional litigation at this time. This is about making sure that those changes stay in place...no matter who's running the school."

In May 2017, Elliott, a McKinley High School student accused the principal and the school district of discriminating against LGBTQ students.

The school district settled with Elliott in September, agreeing to maintain a Gay-Straight Alliance afterschool program and enact policies requiring anti-discrimination training for students and staff as well as policies that help students report LGBTQ discrimination.

Barton's attorney tells us she did not want to settle, or have the case dismissed, because she wanted her accuser to have to prove the allegations made against her, in court.

"All of these allegations were salacious and clearly generated some publicity" said Boreanaz, "but they were false. The plaintiff's lawyers and handlers would say, 'Well, we've settled the lawsuit because we got all that we wanted from the lawsuit,' and that's hogwash. It sought punitive damages against Mrs. Barton. It sought compensatory damages. It sought injunctions against the school district and Mrs. Barton...none of which they obtained.

"The real reason they pulled the plug on the lawsuit is because they were afraid of what would be exposed through federal depositions under oath in a federal courtroom."

Hodgson responded, "Byshop stands by all of his allegations. This request to dismiss was really all about moving forward. And because there was no benefit to the students of the school district or the students of McKinley in continuing this litigation."

Court documents show, in February 2018, Hodgson submitted the motion to dismiss Elliott's claims against Barton.

"This motion to dismiss," adds Hodgson, "was filed before any of those depositions were sought. So, I don't think that argument doesn't really hold weight. And I'll note that they were seeking to depose over 40 people over the course of this litigation. So, that's just one indication how it really wouldn't have been worth it for us to continue to move forward."

Since the case was dismissed, Barton had requested to have Elliott or the Buffalo Public School District take care of her legal fees. But the federal judge said that would need to be resolved in state court.

Boreanaz says they already submitted a request which is now pending before a New York State Supreme Court Judge.

The school district tells 2 On Your Side Barton is currently on paid administrative leave for an unrelated case in which Barton is being investigated for possible misuse of $22,000 of school funding.