30 years ago in PGN

30 years ago in PGN

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Suburban trans teacher reinstated

A judge reinstated a transgender art teacher from Media, Delaware County, who had been fired after undergoing a sex-change operation.

U.S. District Judge Donald Van Artsdalen restored Jenell Ashlie, 27, to her position May 9 as a teacher in the Chester-Upland school district, but on a suspended status.

Van Artsdalen ordered the district to pay Ashlie $10,000 in back pay and schedule an employment hearing for within 30 days of the ruling.

The district fired Ashlie, who had been teaching at Pulaski Middle School under her given name Keith Komarnicki, the previous August after she announced that she was transitioning.

The district said the decision was made because of Ashlie’s “incompetence, immorality and other improper conduct, all of which are potentially psychologically damaging to students.”

Ashlie filed suit because the district did not conduct a full hearing on the issue, as was its typical policy.

The judge said he did not order Ashlie to be fully reinstated to her position because he believed the district to have jurisdiction over such matters.

Ashlie, who told PGN she believed the district would again decide to dismiss her, chose to forego a hearing and on June 14 agreed to resign in exchange for a $35,000 cash settlement.

LGBT counseling center burglarized

The Eromin Center, a now-defunct LGBT counseling facility at 1735 Naudain St. in the Graduate Hospital area, was the target of a burglary, losing about $2,000 worth of equipment.

Burglars broke into the office sometime between 4 p.m. April 28 and 9 a.m. April 30, when all employees were out of the office for the weekend. The assailants got away with radios, electric typewriters, a stereo, an answering machine, clocks and a coffee maker.

“It was a real shocker,” said Mary Cochran, clinical director of the center. “They took about everything they could walk off with.”

No money was stolen and no patient records appeared to have been out of place.

“Everything that was locked stayed locked. Our files were not touched,” Cochran said.

The center was scheduled to receive a $6,000 grant from the Philadelphia Foundation May 4, which Cochran said would assist in the restocking of the office.

Cabaret catches fire

Bramwell’s, formerly a gay cabaret and restaurant at 200 S. Camac St., suffered about $175,000 worth of damage after the property caught fire May 7.

The three-alarm fire appeared to have been started by a faulty compressor in a basement freezer. The blaze, which was first reported around 4:15 p.m. that day, spread quickly through a dumbwaiter in the basement, entirely skipping the first floor and traveling to the second-floor cabaret, which was completely gutted.

The fire occurred on a Monday, and Jack Friel, Bramwell’s owner, said the establishment fortunately was not open on Mondays, so no one was inside at the time of the blaze.

Friel said his insurance would cover approximately $120,000 worth of the repairs. The building’s owner, Meridian Club, pledged to assist with the repairs and estimated the establishment, which opened just five months prior to the fire, would be able to reopen by September.

Three other adjacent townhomes were also damaged in the fire. The same three homes also caught fire May 12, resulting in more damage.

— Jen Colletta

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