OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe Public Schools employee says she was sexually harassed. The administrator she’s accusing still has a job; however, her lawyer says she’s the one facing retaliation.
“It’s been extremely disturbing for her,” Mark Dugan said.
Dugan is a partner with Dugan Schlozman Attorneys at Law and represents the Olathe Public Schools employee who says she was harassed.
Dugan said over the last few months the 18-year employee’s life has been turned upside down. The woman filed a sexual harassment claim with the district against Rich Wilson, the director of curriculum and assessment for the district.
“Rather than make life better for her, rather than remove the conditions they offered her a demotion and later they offered her a severance. In conjunction with that they offered her to pay her to keep quiet about it essentially,” Dugan said.
The woman claims Wilson looked at her suggestively, made her uncomfortable on a number of occasions, and in one instance touched the inside of her thigh. That prompted her to file the claim against. Wilson.
“I think she was sexually harassed but in this instance the district’s more serious conduct was retaliating against her for filing a sexual harassment claim,” Dugan said.
After the Title VIII claim was filed with the district the woman said Wilson filed a wrongful harassment claim against her. The district then offered her a nearly $200,000 separation agreement and release.
FOX4 exclusively obtained the documents. In them there is a confidentiality clause where if she would have signed she would not have been able to talk about not only the agreement, but what she claims happened to her.
The agreement offers the woman a year-and-a-half of pay along with a years worth of COBRA benefits. Dugan says she did not sign the document and when she didn’t the district made the decision to eliminate her position.
“They were going to eliminate her position. They told her they wanted her off the premises immediately and they wanted her to work from home,” Dugan said.
He said his client is still with the district but is working from home and no longer included in conversations and decisions she otherwise would be.
Dugan said he talked with two other women who made similar claims about Wilson and he’s heard of more.
Olathe Public Schools would not comment on the separation agreement, or possible retaliation against the woman, but did release a statement in regards to the investigation into her claims.
We acknowledge and respect that situations involving misconduct carry with them individual experiences, perspectives and concerns. We never want to belittle or diminish anyone’s individual experiences or concerns. However, we feel we owe it to our community to share what we are able regarding the referenced situation and to assure them of our core values as a school district and education system.
Although we will not provide specific information out of respect for the privacy of those involved, we can share the following:
Olathe Public Schools takes any and all allegations of staff misconduct very seriously and we have processes and procedures in place to investigate and address them in accordance with our board policies, state and federal laws.
Our focus is and always will be to ensure our staff feel safe and supported at work.
We are committed to providing every staff member due process.
As such, the referenced situation was thoroughly investigated both internally and externally, above and beyond what is required by law and our board policies.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to the integrity of our organization and the core values of the Olathe Public Schools.Olathe Public Schools
Dugan said the problem goes beyond his client.
“When there are multiple women asserting claims against one person and the district doesn’t respond that’s a real concern. It’s easier for the district to just say it’s untrue, but at some point it’s just implausible,” Dugan said.
Dugan said they filed a claim in December with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and are waiting on a response. Once they do he says they plan to file suit against the district and Wilson.
At Olathe’s School Board meeting on Thursday two women stood up during public comment to speak out about the allegations against Wilson without naming him.
“How can we as a district say We value diversity, equity and inclusion and then allow what is happening to these women educators and personnel, some of whom are too scared to even speak up,” Angela Schreller said. “It’s time to take a stand and in predatory behavior, not your daughter, not your son, not our children, and I’m going to add not our educators.”
“This issue requires leadership. Leadership that doesn’t permit staff to be dehumanized by other staff,” Sarah Coddington said. “How many staff are affected, how do we move forward, your employees, your students, your public need to know that you stand behind the board policy.”
FOX4 reached out to Wilson directly about the claims against him but did not hear back.
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