Hitchcock teacher files whistleblower suit against school district

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Aug. 19, 2009, 7:00am

GALVESTON � A Hitchcock school principal claims she is being forced out of her job because she reported fraud to the Texas Education Agency, recent court documents say.

Doreatha Walker of Houston accuses Hitchcock Independent School District of retaliating against her after she filed two whistleblower reports in response to alleged financial wrongdoing with the state earlier this year.

"The defendant HISD participated in a long-standing conspiracy to abuse, discredit, and vilify the plaintiff the plaintiff for the sole purpose of causing the plaintiff harm and threatened termination from the district because of the plaintiff's whistleblowing of fraud," the suit, which was filed in Galveston County District Court Aug. 11, says.

Walker is representing herself in the litigation.

Walker, who was the director of HISD's Kids First Head Start program, claims that during the previous academic year she began to suspect that superintendent Mike Bergman and the district's business manager were committing violations of state law by writing false reports to the TEA for reimbursement for transporting Head Start students, the suit states.

According to the complaint, the defendant allegedly padded the numbers on the documents and received funds when some of the students were not transported.

Consequently, Walker contacted the TEA in May about her employer's alleged misconduct.

Walker claims Bergman began to take adverse personnel actions against the her, including but not limited to threatening termination of her contract.

Those actions "affected the plaintiff's prestige, opportunity for advancement within the district, and did serious and tangible harm to her statue and reputation by publicly embarrassing her," the suit says.

"This whistle blowing led to a pattern of actions toward the plaintiff, which included the superintendent retaliating against the plaintiff by recommending that the plaintiff's contract be terminated, humiliation, defamation of character amongst other things causing pain and suffering including mental anguish, stress and anxiety," the suit states.

"As a result of these incidents, the plaintiff has been caused much embarrassment and has been placed at a risk of losing her livelihood and professional reputation amongst administrators, teachers, students, and parents."

Walker, who is on administrative leave, adds that despite signing a contract for the 2009-2010 school year, she has not been allowed to perform her duties as an HISD administrator.

She seeks unspecified monetary damages, the reinstatement of her position, and a jury trial.

Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV1439

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