Law Offices of Louis Spitters

California special ed director settles wrongful termination claim

All students within a school district deserve to receive a quality education. Students with special needs often need accommodations in place to ensure that are able to work toward success. To ensure that districts are in compliance with state and federal laws regarding special education students, they will often hire personnel to help. Unfortunately, the former special education director of a California school district recently settled a wrongful termination claim, arguing that conflict developed between her and her superiors over compliance issues.

The lawsuit was filed in Sept. 2017. The defendant began working for the district in 2012. She claims that she initially received praise for her work, with the former superintendent describing her as "knowledgeable" and making positive changes in the district as late as 2015. However, a new superintendent was hired the following month who placed the plaintiff under the supervision of the assistant superintendent of instructional services; both of these men were named as defendants in the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that one of the defendants asked her to take action that would have been out of compliance with laws governing special education. 

She specifically details being asked to assess students during the summer which she declined to do over compliance issues. After that, she says the two defendants began a campaign to see her terminated, keeping a notebook noting any errors she made and calling secret meetings to illicit complaints from special education teachers. According to the plaintiff, the response to her complaints to human resource personnel and school board members were either ineffective or nonexistent. She was soon demoted to school psychologist, resulting in an approximately $50,000 per year loss in salary; she resigned soon after.

Reports indicate that the school board recently unanimously agreed to settle the lawsuit for $300,000 and attorney fees if the plaintiff agrees to release them from all claims. Unfortunately, there are others in California who are suffering as a result of unlawful treatment in the workplace. Many are unaware of their legal options, but there are professionals with experience with wrongful termination and other employment law issues who can help them fully understand the ways in which they can seek recourse.

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