- Associated Press - Sunday, March 23, 2014

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - A vice president at the College of Southern Idaho put on paid leave until her contract expires has filed documents indicating her intention to bring a discrimination lawsuit against the school.

The Times-News reports (http://bit.ly/1nHpvnX) that Edit Szanto last week filed a tort claim, a precursor to a lawsuit against a public entity.

Szanto, vice president of student services/planning and grant development, contends that CSI President Jeff Fox and others targeted her with discrimination, retaliation and unequal pay because of her gender and national origin.

Szanto and her family left Romania as political refugees and came to the United States in 1990.

“I believe that Dr. Fox and his collaborators violated my civil rights, discriminated and retaliated against me based upon my gender and national origin and for complaining about and opposing disparate treatment, favoritism, and hostile work environment,” she wrote in a statement to the newspaper.

In February she filed complaints with the Idaho Commission on Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Kirtlan Naylor, an attorney representing the school, declined to comment. But Naylor confirmed the college has received the notice of the tort claim, sent to CSI’s Board of Trustees.

Szanto has worked at the school for 17 years, but was placed on paid leave Jan. 2. She said she’s been told she’ll remain on paid leave until her contract expires on June 30.

According to online court records, a hearing is scheduled for April 21 in 5th District Court concerning a petition filed by Szanto to obtain public records concerning the college’s actions to end her employment.

Szanto earned a number of college degrees and started working full time at the college in 1996 as director of the instructional technology center. In 2004 she became library director, and in 2007 was promoted to vice president.

She said that on Dec. 20 she received an email from college officials informing her she’d be placed on paid leave.

“I was absolutely shocked,” she said. “I was inconsolable when I got the email.”

The reason cited in the notice, she said, was that Fox “considers my communication unacceptable.”

She said she’s received excellent performance evaluations that included her communication and collaboration and has never received disciplinary action.

Fox took over as CSI’s president on Jan. 1, and the next day Szanto said she was placed on involuntary paid leave.

On Jan. 22, Fox sent a final decision, Szanto said, to end her contract on June 30.

Szanto is being represented by Boise attorney Tara Martens Miller.

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Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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