LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, PA – Union High School Principal Corey Lowery, on paid administrative leave since September 2018, has accepted a job as Lincoln University Lions head men’s basketball coach, according to Lincoln University’s website.
The announcement says Lowery brings over 20 years' experience to Lincoln, including 10 years as a head coach on the junior college level at Essex County College and Middlesex County College. There is no mention of his stint as Union High School principal in the announcement, but it does say he spent the past two seasons as Director of Player Development/Coaching Consultant at Division I St. Peter's University.
Lowery has been on paid administrative leave since an explosive lawsuit, naming him and members of the administration as defendants, was filed in November 2018 on behalf of Union’s Director of Athletics alleging harassment and discrimination.
Township of Union Schools Athletic Director Linda Ionta, a Union school district employee for over 30 years, filed the suit against Union High School Principal Corey Lowery, alleging that Lowery engaged “in a severe and pervasive pattern of conduct designed to usurp and undermine Ms. Ionta in her position as Athletic Director”.
Among other charges, Ionta's suit outlined multiple occasions when Lowery insisted that Ionta involve him in hiring and/or employment decisions relating to the coaching staff. According to the suit, hiring decisions “were exclusively the responsibility of Ms. Ionta and Lowery has no authority or responsibility to participate in such decisions.”
The suit goes on to allege that Lowery directed Ionta to make employment decisions based upon the race of the individual. Ionta’s suit says on numerous occasions since 2015, Lowery told Ionta to terminate football coach Lou Grasso and basketball coach Kevin Feeley.
According to the lawsuit, Lowery told Ionta that the white male coaches were “unable to reach our kids because our kids cannot see themselves in them”. Ionta refused to follow Lowery’s directive and on multiple occasions reported it the administration, “because in my heart I know that [the white male coaches] are great coaches and because it’s wrong to want to fire coaches because of the color of their skin.”
Regarding another hiring decision, according to the suit, Ionta recommended a candidate who was white, female and a lesbian because “she was the most qualified for the position.” Lowery told Ionta her decision would be disregarded because her candidate “doesn’t look like a head coach”, referring to among other things, the applicant’s weight.
The lawsuit continues that in April 2017, Lowery, “who has no supervisory authority over Ionta”, prepared a written disciplinary action document relating to Ionta’s handling of senior student athletes.
The lawsuit contends that Lowery engaged in an unrelenting course of harassment, intimidation and conduct usurping and undermining Ionta’s authority, frequently for the unlawful purpose of attempting to make employment decisions on the impermissible basis of an individual’s race.
Within weeks of Ionta's lawsuit, Lowery filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education President, the Union Township Board of Education, and other unnamed individuals. Lowery alleges that actions by the president and the Board “are racially motivated in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.” Lowery’s suit claims that the defendants, through the actions of the Board president, retaliated against his employ by placing him on administrative leave for, among other reasons, filing an Ethics Complaint against the Board president alleging he violated the School Ethics Act. Lowery also alleges in the suit that the actions by the Board president and the Board violate the Conscientious Employment Protection Act.
Both lawsuits are ongoing. It is unclear when or if Lowery resigned from his position in the Union school system.
"It is an absolute honor to be selected as the new Head Men's Basketball Coach at Lincoln University," said Lowery about his new position. "I am very grateful that the interview committee under the direction of Athletic Director, Harry Stinson felt confident to select me for this position."