The former Ocean City High School athletic director acquitted in 2017 of hacking into the superintendent’s email to get a leg up on contract negotiations is appealing the dismissal of her federal suit against the district.

In March, a federal judge in Camden dismissed a civil suit filed by Christine Lentz and her wife, Lynn Petrozza, against Ocean City Superintendent Kathleen Taylor, the school board, the district’s investigators and its attorneys that alleged a conspiracy to remove Lentz from her position based on her sexual orientation.

Lentz filed an appeal April 4.

Lentz’s attorney, Louis F. Hornstine, was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Christine O’Hearn, attorney for Taylor and the school board, said she was happy with the judge’s decision to dismiss the case.

“We intend to continue to vigorously defend this case,” O’Hearn said.

In addition to the federal suit, Lentz filed a nearly identical suit against the district and Taylor in Cape May County Superior Court on March 22.

In his dismissal of the federal suit issued March 8, Judge Robert Kugler laid out the allegations.

“Plaintiff claims that her role as a salary negotiator with the school board placed her in the cross-hairs of a vast conspiracy,” Kugler wrote in his opinion. “A group of lawyers, consultants and school officials — all acting in cahoots — falsely claimed that Plaintiff had illegally accessed the school superintendent’s email. Then, through a fraudulent investigation, these Defendants fabricated and withheld evidence for the sole purpose of removing Plaintiff from her position at the school.”

In dismissing the claims, Kugler said Lentz failed to prove that Comegno Law Firm and DFDR Consulting were state actors under the law or that Lentz suffered any constitutional violations. In addition, Kugler wrote that Lentz, under case law, has no right to her continued employment and did not properly establish any due-process violations.

Kugler declined to hear any remaining counts based on state law.

Contact: 609-272-7251 Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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