Salem-Keizer School District hit with sexual discrimination lawsuits

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The Salem-Keizer School District is facing sexual discrimination lawsuits for the first time in a decade with four separate complaints filed in federal court.
     
Superintendent Sandy Husk said that four lawsuits was not an unusual number for a district with 5,000 employees. She also said sexual discrimination has not been mentioned as a concern when she visits schools and talks with employees.
     
The school district has settled with one former teacher, Viola Carlile, who said her principal, since reassigned, made an unwanted sexual advance and had not allowed her the breaks and lunches required by the union contract.
     
Carlile claims her report led to a series of retaliatory actions, and she filed a worker's compensation claim for anxiety and depression.
     
She filed a lawsuit in December 2006 claiming gender and age discrimination, and retaliation. She asked for $250,000 plus back pay. She also filed a whistleblower complaint, asking for $610,000.
     
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
     
Carlile, 59, had worked for the district since 1986 and is a Crystal Apple Award winner. She retired at the end of last school year.
     
Two suits are preparing for trial. One was filed by former McNary High School teacher and the other by a former Walker Middle School teacher.
     
The former McNary teacher, a 43 year old woman, claimed sex discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation and violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act and Oregon Family Leave Act. She is asking for $300,000 in damages.
     
She claims that, beginning in 2001, she was sexually harassed by two special-education instructors, and when she met with an assistant principal to discuss it, he repeatedly told her that she was pretty. The school district denied the allegations.
     
The former Walker Middle School teacher filed his lawsuit in May 2007 claiming he was removed from his extracurricular coaching job in June 2005 by an administrator who overreacted to the fallout caused by a sex-abuse case at another Salem-Keizer middle school.
     
A former instructional assistant also filed a lawsuit last week claiming sex and religious discrimination, retaliation and wrongful discharge.
     
He said that in spring 2006 he complained to his classroom teacher that she and female co-workers were making inappropriate sexual jokes, but the jokes continued. The district has not filed a response to the instructional assistant's lawsuit, which seeks $21 million in damages.
     
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)