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School District Settles Retaliation Lawsuit Filed by Teacher

The lawsuit filed by former teacher Sandra Brody against the Fort Worth Independent School District has been settled. The settlement was approved in January and the district will be required to pay $41,500.The teacher claimed administrators retaliated against her after concerns were reported about the school’s handling of P.E. classes. Brody worked as a teacher during the 2008-2009 school year at Clifford Davis Elementary School. She reported that the time allotted for physical education classes were being used to prep students for state math tests.

retaliation.jpgIn the retaliation lawsuit, she claimed that students were not receiving state required physical activity. She felt an obligation to also notify parents of the activities. In Brody’s suit, she also alleged that her teaching contract was not renewed as a result of her report. Brody began her career with the district in 2006 when she worked as a teacher’s aide. In the summer of 2007, she became certified to teach. Brody said she became concerned during the 2008-2209 school year when she became aware that the students were not having recess and that physical education classes were being used to prepare for the Texas Assessment test. The Texas State law has a requirement of 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day. The law does not specify that the activity has to be in a formal P.E. class. According to the Texas Education Agency, the activity can be offered in a number of ways.

Brody also claimed that the central administrator, who has since retired, reinstated the physical education classes after the concerns were reported. According to Brody, when she continued to report her concerns, she started to receive threats of losing her job. During this time, she had been written up regarding concerns of her job performance. There is a stipulation in the settlement that neither party in the suit has admitted to any illegal activity. The school board will rescind Brody’s termination proposal and acknowledge her letter of resignation.

District officials disputed her claim that retaliation was an issue in the case and in the district as a whole. Clint Bond, district spokesman, has declined to comment on the specifics of the retaliation lawsuit. There are currently at least three pending lawsuits against the district where retaliation is claimed. Another suit was brought about by an employee who claims that she was terminated for making a report regarding payroll problems. The third school district lawsuit was filed by a former assistant principal, who claimed that district officials sought to fire him after he made a report regarding problems at Arlington Heights High.

If you are a California school administrator with a question about school district related employment law, student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district employment law issue.