Suit accuses PVUSD of discrimination: Institutional harassment, retaliation also alleged in complaint

“Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD) is not aware of any lawsuit filed against the district, the superintendent or anyone else you’ve mentioned. However, if there is a lawsuit, we will respond at a later time, once we’re able to carefully examine the complaint you are speaking of with facts,” stated PVUSD to a Times inquiry on the matter. “Nonetheless, Dr. Bush has made it very clear, that students and student-learning are our top priorities as a district, and he is 100% committed to PVUSD and serving the families of this community.” (Archived photo by Uriel Avendano/Palo Verde Valley Times)

An 80-page complaint filed with the Riverside County Superior Court has brought several allegations to the forefront of Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD), with former Palo Verde High School (PVHS) Principal Brandy Cox and former Yellow Jacket football coach George Dagnino named as two of seven plaintiffs (et al) charging the school district and Superintendent Dr. Charles Bush, among others, with accusations of institutional harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

As of this publication’s deadline date, the lawsuit is currently in the process of being served to the 13 named defendants.

“The complaint also details instances of retaliation against those charged with protecting the District’s most vulnerable children after they raised concerns about whether the District’s Individual Education Program (‘IEP’) complied with applicable federal and state laws. The complaint further alleges that both the District and the County of Riverside were negligent in hiring Dr. Bush,” stated Donald R. Holben & Associates law firm, who represents the plaintiffs in the case. “Specifically, the complaint alleges that while conducting the search for a new Superintendent of Schools, the District and the County failed to properly investigate Dr. Bush’s June 2016 resignation as Superintendent of the Ft. Bragg Unified School District after he was named in a Petition of No Confidence that was signed by 95% of the District’s rank-and-file teachers.”

The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified sum of money in relation to the complaint’s numerous alleged violations, which include:

• Discrimination based on age, religion, and race (Gov. Code Sec. 12940, et seq.);

• Harassment based on age, gender, religion, and race (Gov. Code Sec. 12940, et seq.);

• Failure to prevent discrimination and harassment (Gov. Code Sec. 12940[k]);

• Whistleblower retaliation in violation of Labor Code Sec. 1102.5;

• Retaliation in violation of Gov. Code Sec. 12940 (h);

• Retaliation in violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA);

• Discrimination and harassment based upon disability or perceived disability; and more.

“Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD) is not aware of any lawsuit filed against the district, the superintendent or anyone else you’ve mentioned. However, if there is a lawsuit, we will respond at a later time, once we’re able to carefully examine the complaint you are speaking of with facts,” stated PVUSD to a Times inquiry on the matter. “Nonetheless, Dr. Bush has made it very clear, that students and student-learning are our top priorities as a district, and he is 100% committed to PVUSD and serving the families of this community.”

According to the plaintiff’s counsel, “Numerous other individuals who were aggrieved by Dr. Bush’s actions elected not to join in the litigation due to their fear of reprisal given their strong business and familial ties to the community.”

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