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Second-Grade Teacher Sues School District for Retaliation

A second-grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in San Francisco who sued the San Francisco Unified School District in 2006 for employment discrimination and was awarded a $60,000 settlement has gone back to court, this time claiming that officials at the school are retaliating against her for the original lawsuit.

retaliation%20lawsuit.jpgMargaret Reyes filed federal court documents alleging that the school has made unfounded accusations against her and placed her under disciplinary review. Among other things, she claims she was disciplined for letting a student go outside without a jacket and “mishandling” paperwork.

Court papers describe a difficult working environment in which Reyes was denied restroom breaks and forced to teach in a flooded classroom. According to Reyes, the school’s principal, Richard Zapien, taunted the teacher and later refused to come to her assistance when a troubled student got violent and held Reyes and a classroom full of students hostage.

In her suit, Reyes claims that she is being harassed because she took the district to court after the school’s principal suggested that she should leave the district and seek work in a school associated with her religion. Her suit also alleges that Reyes has been discriminated against because of her gender and age as well as her religion.

Richard M. Rogers, attorney for Reyes, stated, “There was a budget crunch. People were getting pink slips. She’s Catholic, and (the principal) made the comment that she should get a job at a Catholic school to open a spot for someone else.”

Rogers also accused the district of not complying with the court’s order in the earlier case, although he said a confidentiality clause prevented him from being more specific.

If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, or school employment law, 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 issue.