Aide Refuses To Settle With Education Employer Over Retaliation
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 17, 2006
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA--One of two county education employees, who had claimed that their employer retaliated against them after they helped students with disabilities file a class action lawsuit against it, has agreed to settle out of court, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Friday.
The other says she won't settle, for the sake of the students.
Marcia Howard and Sue Barker had the responsibility, as instructional aides for the Riverside County Office of Education, to visit court and community school sites to ensure that students who fell outside of the traditional education system, such as those who had been expelled or were in the court system, received a proper education.
The two said that they found students whose special education needs were not identified in a timely manner, or who weren't receiving the services described in their individual education plans, or IEPs. They then helped some students file the federal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.
Howard claimed that after the suit was filed last year, she was demoted to a clerk position. This week, Howard agreed to settle with the county, accepting paid leave and benefits through the end of November. She is not allowed to discuss the details, as part of the agreement.
Barker claimed that administrators made unkind comments to her and coworkers topped associating with her after the suit was filed. She also said that her workload has since been reduced, and scattered over a larger area of the county, allegedly as a form of retaliation.
"I don't care if they want to settle with me. I want to fight," Barker said. "I don't want people to forget there is an ongoing problem."
Officials with the Office of Civil Rights were in Riverside last week to investigate Barkers claims, the Press-Enterprise noted.
County officials denied the claims and said things have improved for students served through the county agency.
"County employee drops civil-rights complaint" (Press-Enterprise)