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Millions demanded in federal lawsuit against Onaway schools

ONAWAY — An Onaway parent is demanding millions of dollars after Onaway Area Community Schools staff excluded her from school property and police accused her of illegally recording a conversation between school officials.

Erin Chaskey filed a federal civil rights action in late June asking for $20 million in compensation for abuse she claims she suffered at the districts’ hands.

The school district in October ordered Chaskey to stay off of school property after a surveillance camera in a school office caught Chaskey recording the conversation, held in Fullerton’s office, between then-Onaway superintendent Rod Fullerton and a school board member.

Chaskey then filed a lawsuit in Presque Isle County courts, accusing the district, two school officials, and the Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Office of ousting her from school property in retaliation for her previous outspokenness about school curriculum she deemed inappropriate.

She dropped that lawsuit while fighting a criminal eavesdropping charge related to the recording.

Chaskey fought the charge, saying she could record the conversation because she was in a public place and that the officials, who spoke with Fullerton’s door open, could not expect privacy.

The court subsequently dismissed the eavesdropping charge, saying the prosecution had not proven Chaskey committed a crime.

Last month, Chaskey filed the federal suit, naming the school district, school and police officials, Presque Isle County, and Presque Isle County Prosecutor, Ken Radzibon, as defendants.

In the 37-page document, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Chaskey claims she was the lone target of “egregious, retaliatory, and vindictive acts” of the defendants, who she said deprived her of constitutional freedoms.

Chaskey claims she suffered physical and emotional pain as a result of the defendants’ treatment of her and asked the court to award her $20 million in compensatory damages, plus “punitive and exemplary damages to the extent allowed by law” because of the defendants’ “evil” intent and “callous indifference.”

Radzibon, Presque Isle County Sheriff Joe Brewbaker, and Onaway Area Community Schools Superintendent Mindy Horn could not be immediately reached for comment.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693 or jriddle@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jriddleX.

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