Running a school district in current times can be very stressful. Most school districts have many critics, and these critics have many points of view. When criticisms of an administrator originate within the school district staff, the administrator will find him or herself navigating very rough waters. An especially vivid example of this situation is provided by the Woodburn School District’s dispute with its superintendent.
The origins of the dispute
The dispute began when an attorney for an employee of the district filed a notice of claim alleging that the respondent, Oscar Moreno Gilson, who was the superintendent of the district at the time, had engaged in numerous prohibited practices including reorganizing the senior management of the district in a manner prohibited by school district regulations. The school board voted to place the respondent on administrative leave while an independent investigator evaluated the claims.
The nature of the internal complaint has never been revealed. In his complaint against the district, Moreno Gilson alleges that he was wrongfully discharged from his position, that the school board’s use of administrative leave was retaliatory, and that the board engaged in intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Moreno Gilson has received statements of support from the union representing Woodburn teachers and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators. The director of this group wrote that “Oscar is a leader with resounding personal and professional integrity.”
The school board has not commented on the case, citing a policy against commenting on pending litigation. The parties will engage in discovery, including written interrogatories and oral depositions. Defendants in such cases commonly bring a motion before the presiding judge asking that the case be dismissed without a trial. Such motions are rarely granted.
This lawsuit appears to be one of the cases that often enters the judicial system because the institution itself is unable to resolve the conflict. Anyone who faces a similar controversy may wish to consult an experienced employment attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can review the evidence, suggest legal arguments to support or attack one position or the other, and provide an opinion on the likelihood of success.