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Geneva School District Officials Sue Over Unauthorized Recordings

Lawsuit: Margaret Pennington repeatedly told she could not record conversations.

A former Geneva School District administrator secretly recorded a 2009 conversation with two of her bosses despite being told numerous times she did not have consent to do so, according to a lawsuit recently filed by the district.

Margaret Pennington—who served as principal and later as district special projects coordinator from July 2008 to June 2010—also recorded a 2010 staff meeting without announcing to those in attendance or receiving their permission to do so. Both incidents described in the lawsuit occurred after Assistant Superintendents Dawn George and Patricia O'Neil repeatedly refused to allow Pennington to make any recordings.

"At no time whatsoever did Pennington ever obtain consent ... to audio-record the conversations at their meetings," the lawsuit filed March 31 states, adding she acknowledged as much in late 2009.

The district, which claims Pennington committed the crime of eavesdropping, is seeking an injunction to prevent further recordings, to have the existing recordings destroyed and to receive financial damages.

"As a result of Pennington's non-consensual recording of conversations, a climate of distrust and fear pervades the district's administrative offices," the lawsuit states, without specifying what was discussed in the recorded meetings.

Contact information for Pennington, of Geneva, could not immediately be located. She was officially served notice of the case on April 8 and no attorney has filed an appearance on her behalf. Pennington has not been charged criminally with anything related to the district's allegations, according to court records.

The district could not comment on legal matters, including whether police were contacted, a spokesman said Thursday.

District officials claim Pennington asked George and O'Neil at least five times for permission to record their conversations. The November 2009 meeting among the three was stored on Pennington's district-provided computer, the suit states.

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