Brazoria Co. man claims HISD fired him for reporting wrongdoing in police department to Harris Co. DA

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Mar 1, 2013

HOUSTON - A Brazoria County man has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Houston Independent School District after he lost his job with its police department, recent court documents say. 

In a lawsuit filed Feb. 15 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, Rosharon resident John Rawlings asserts HISD fired him from his management position in its police department's crossing guard unit "for his exercise of his First Amendment right to report wrongdoing to the Harris County District Attorney."

HISD hired the plaintiff in 1995.

Rawlings explains that in late July 2009, he and a co-worker went to the Harris County District Attorney's Office to report that members of the HISD police command staff, including Assistant Chief Victor Mitchell, were purportedly using official vehicles for private profit while off duty.

According to the suit, the force's administrators were aware of his report to the district attorney, and in September 2010, Rawlings began to experience an apparently hostile environment.

One of the plaintiff's subordinates then reported him for supposedly making inappropriate remarks in her presence, of which the timing he contends was "suspect" as the worker was made aware she was about to receive a negative work performance evaluation.

The complainant further shows HISD sided with the woman and moved toward his termination on grounds he violated three departmental directives in February 2011.

He unsuccessfully appealed the firing since the assistant chief upheld the decision.

Rawlings insists his protected speech "was a motivating factor in the defendant’s decision to fire him."

Consequently, he seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Attorney Jefferson K. Brim III of Austin is representing the plaintiff.

Case No. 4:13-CV-418

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