Maryvale sues former nurse over improper use of sick time

CHEEKTOWAGA – The Cheektowaga-Maryvale Union Free School District has launched a lawsuit against a former school nurse to recover damages connected to her improper use of sick days while she worked another job at a local college.

The complaint filed in Supreme Court on May 4th alleges that LeeAnn Speyer of West Seneca, a nurse assigned to duties at Maryvale’s Intermediate and Middle schools, inappropriately used sick days while she was employed at Trocaire College.

Cheektowaga Chronicle spoke to Ms. Speyer’s attorney Lindy Korn by phone Wednesday.

“There have been allegations made. There will be absolute responses to those allegations which I don’t discuss in an article and I would ask you to keep looking at the case as it proceeds,” said Ms. Korn.  “LeeAnn Speyer is someone I’m proud to represent and that the case will unfold as it unfolds.”

Lawyers for the district said in the complaint that Ms. Speyer used her district e-mail account in early November 2017 to communicate with Trocaire representatives about interviewing for the open job at the college and asked by e-mail to leave early to care for a family emergency the day of an interview on November 15th.

“Subsequent e-mail exchanges between [Ms. Speyer] and Trocaire indicate that [Ms. Speyer] believed she has an interview at Trocaire College scheduled for 3:00 pm on November 15, 2017,” lawyers wrote.

The interview was later rescheduled to November 20th.

Lawyers also said Ms. Speyer was to meet with district officials on November 28th to discuss issues surrounding the dispensing of medication to students and Ms. Speyer’s use of work time and school resources to perform work not associated with the district or her duties as a school nurse.

Court records said Trocaire College offered Ms. Speyer a job on November 30th, a day after she cleaned out her desk at the Intermediate School, and she sent an email to Trocaire on December 1st saying “I’m so excited to make the transition to the Trocaire Family!!.[sic]”

The complaint alleges that Ms. Speyer called the school principal on December 6th informing the school that she would be going out on medical leave.  The next day the district received a fax from Ms. Speyer’s doctor informing the district she would be unable to work until further notice because of a hand injury.  A follow-up fax on December 14th said she was 100% disabled due to the injury.

The district alleges that Ms. Speyer used 31 days of sick time from December 6th and January 26, 2018, never informing them of her employment at Trocaire.

“On or about January 25, 2018 at approximately 9:00 am, Superintendent of Schools Joseph D’Angelo called [Ms. Speyer] at the office telephone number listed on her staff profile on the Trocaire website.  [Ms. Speyer] answered the phone, which indicated that she was at work at Trocaire during normal school day hours,” lawyers wrote.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Steven Lunden went to Trocaire later that morning and attempted to hand deliver a letter to request a meeting to discuss the dual employment status, but Ms. Speyer refused to accept the letter.

She submitted a letter to Dr. Lunden indicating her intention to retire effective January 26, 2018. 

A certified letter from the district demanding repayment for the sick days and benefits paid while she was employed at Trocaire was never answered within the timeframe established in the letter.

The lawsuit seeks $13,011.15 in damages for the improper use of sick days and the district’s payment of her health and dental benefits.  They also seek an additional $6,422.42 for the costs associated with securing a substitute teacher.

A Trocaire spokesperson said the college had no comment.

Ms. Speyer is a former sister-in-law of Cheektowaga’s Assistant Chief of Police James Speyer.  Mr. Speyer tells Cheektowaga Chronicle he has not had contact with Ms. Speyer in several months.

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