A former athletic director for Wayland (Mass.) High School has been awarded $250,000 after a federal jury in Boston found the schools and town violated the state’s Whistleblower Act when they did not renew his contract in 2015 following his allegations of unequal treatment of boys' and girls' sports teams.
"It definitely feels very good to be vindicated. It’s been a long time to get to this point," Stephen Cass said Monday, three days after the ruling, as reported by The MetroWest Daily News in Framingham.
After two days of deliberations, an eight-person jury in the United States District Court in Boston sided with Cass, who was Wayland's athletic director from 2013 to 2015, on one of three counts he brought against Wayland Public Schools, the Town of Wayland and individual employees in a lawsuit filed in May of 2017.
Cass said his contract was not renewed after he brought allegations of misconduct in the athletics department to the attention of administrators. Among the allegations made by Cass were that volunteers had been allowed to coach teams without undergoing the required criminal background checks, payments were made by parents to coaches and not properly documented, and resources had been skewed toward boys' sports teams to the detriment of female athletes, according to the Daily News. Morever, Cass accused school administrators of violating the state’s whistleblower protection laws and federal gender anti-discrimination laws, as well as defaming his reputation when he was fired and arrested. In October 2015, Cass was arrested at his home by Berger, accused of stealing a school department laptop computer by not returning it after the non-renewal of his contract. A state district court judge cleared Cass of the larceny charge in 2016.
Cass did not prevail in two other counts before the jury: retaliation in violation of Title IX and intentional interference with contractual relations.
"The verdict in this case was decided by a jury trial," wrote School Committee chairwoman Jeanne Downs in an email to the Daily News. "While the jury found in favor of Mr. Cass on one count of his seven-count complaint, we remain confident that our employees acted in the best interest of the schools and the town in this matter."
Since his termination from Wayland, Cass said he has not been able to find “employment in any field.”
"Even though I won the case," he said, "the pain and the toll, it continues and it may never end."