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California Teacher Sues District After Being Fired For Being Gay

Rowland Unified investigates alleged misconduct at secondary schools
By Amanda Baumfeld, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/02/2009 09:51:11 AM PDT




ROWLAND HEIGHTS, CALIFORNIA - During a closed session, school officials today plan to discuss findings of their probe into anonymous complaints about the actions of secondary school administrators.

The investigation was prompted after several anonymous letters to the board alleged discrimination and misconduct by managers at Giano Intermediate School and Nogales High School, officials said.

Rowland Unified School District board member Judy Nieh requested the investigation at an April 7 board meeting but declined to comment further.

"The information I can tell you is that it's all related to a group of people, not just one person or two people," Nieh said.

...

District administrators have been tight-lipped over which schools were investigated, but complaints have surrounded Nogales High and Giano Intermediate schools, according to parents.

A lawsuit filed Dec. 12 in Los Angeles Superior Court accuses Giano Intermediate Principal Patricia Cuesta of discrimination, retaliation and intentional emotional distress.

Former Giano Vice Principal Gary Daniels and teacher Michael Ocampo claim they were harassed, intimidated and forced out of the school by Cuesta, according to the complaint.

Ocampo, an openly gay man, believes he was terminated in July 2008 because Cuesta did not approve of his sexual orientation.

"She made comments to Daniels implying she did not believe he (Ocampo) should be allowed to teach given his sexual orientation," said Pamela McKibbin Teren, an attorney representing the two men. "(Cuesta said) he should be working at Chippendales."

Shortly after, Daniels objected to Cuesta's comments and filed written complaints with her and the district, according to the suit.


The complaint also alleges Cuesta "had a preference for Hispanic employees." Daniels is white, while Ocampo is Asian, according to documents.

A trial date is set for Jan. 20, according to Teren. Daniels and Ocampo are asking for more than $25,000, according to the suit.

Cuesta was hired as Giano's principal in July 2007. She came from Edgewood Middle School in West Covina, where she was the assistant principal.

Under her leadership, Giano was one of 10 schools in the nation recognized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals in March.

It is unclear how many letters the district received.

"All of them (the letters) are anonymous," spokeswoman Gina Ward said. "It's frustrating."

Download a copy of the lawsuit.

SOURCE

Follow-up article under the cut.Collapse )

Those of you who feel like giving the district a piece of your mind over this issue can do so at http://www.rowlandschools.org/apps/contact/?rn=2438909

And those of you who feel like telling Dr. Patricia Cuesta how you feel over her alleged conduct can reach her at pcuesta@mail.rowland.k12.ca.us
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