Mar 02 2018

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Three lawsuits filed against SBCISD

By Art Tanney
Special to the NEWS
Three different lawsuits have been filed against the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District in the last four months.  Three of the four plaintiffs who filed two of the suits claim they were wrongfully terminated from their jobs as employees in the Transportation Department.  Both suits cite the Texas Whistleblower Act. The Act provides certain rights and protections for public employees who report violations of laws by the employing public organization or employee to the appropriate law enforcement personnel.
In one case the two plaintiffs reported a theft by other employees.  Their employment was terminated without any explanation by the District according to the filing, which is public record.  In the other case, the plaintiff reported feeling threatened by a coworker’s statement.  He was suspended on the day of the incident and received a follow-up letter detailing his suspension without pay and telling him he was not allowed to communicate with any employee of the school district.  The plaintiff filed a police report about the incident and he was permanently removed from his position four months later.
The fourth, and most recently filed case, involves the firing of an employee who argues the termination of his employment was a result of a violation of The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and section 21.051 of the Texas Labor Code.  The FMLA guarantees certain employees up to twelve work weeks of unpaid leave with no threat of job loss.  The 64 year old plaintiff argues that the SBCISD miscalculated his unpaid leave, unjustly firing him in order to replace him with a younger employee.  He estimates that three younger and less qualified people have filled his position since he was fired.  Section 21.051 of the Texas Labor Code prohibits discrimination by employers based on (among other things) age.
When asked about the lawsuits and the Board’s policy of transparency, The Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Nate Carman, issued the following information: “all grievances are dealt with in accordance with SBCISD Board Policy DGBA(LOCAL)…the district posts all Level III grievances on our public agendas which are posted at least 72 hours prior to the meeting.”  Due to the lawsuits being ongoing and what Dr. Carman called, “personnel matters,” the Board and District “are not allowed to comment on a pending lawsuit… and there are laws that restrict us from commenting on personnel matters.”
It could take anywhere from six months to a year for the preliminary motions to be heard.  As of now, those dates remain unknown.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.sbnewspaper.com/2018/03/02/three-lawsuits-filed-against-sbcisd/

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