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Judge grants Indian River Central more time to finalize settlement of gay-bias lawsuit

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A federal judge on Tuesday gave Indian River Central School District 30 more days to finalize a settlement agreement with two former students who had alleged in a lawsuit that they were victims of anti-gay discrimination while students there.

Former students Charles P. Pratt and his sister, Ashley E. Petranchuk, filed suit in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, in April 2009 alleging that he was harassed, called names, physically assaulted and threatened for being gay before he dropped out of high school when he was 15 years old. He claimed district officials were aware of the problems but refused to help him. He and his sister also claimed administrators shot down his attempts to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at the high school.

Court filings show that the suit was dismissed June 21 by reason of a settlement, although terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Judge Glenn T. Suddaby gave the parties 30 days to finalize the agreement, although the case could be reinstated by either side if the agreement was not finalized in that time.

On Tuesday, two attorneys from Lambda Legal, New York City, a national organization that defends the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and is representing Mr. Pratt and Miss Petranchuk, asked Judge Suddaby for the additional time because the sides “are still in the process of finalizing certain aspects of the settlement,” according to court documents.

Judge Suddaby granted the request, informing the parties again that if there is no request for reinstatement of the suit in 30 days, the case will be formally closed.

Within two weeks of the lawsuit being filed in 2009, the district agreed to allow Miss Petranchuk to form a Gay-Straight Alliance, insisting that it never denied her request to form a club but said she would need a faculty adviser. The hurdle was cleared when the district recruited a faculty member to serve as adviser.

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