Ivonne Beegle, the former principal of Cardinal Valley Elementary School who said she was asked in 2012 to resign or be fired, alleges in a court document that she was retaliated against because she complained about unequal treatment of her and Hispanic students.
Beegle tells her side of the story in a document filed Feb. 29 in her lawsuit against Fayette County Public Schools officials in response to the school district’s request for a summary judgment. Fayette Circuit Judge Tom Clark is scheduled to consider the district’s request Friday. A summary judgment would cancel a mid-April jury trial.
Beegle, who became principal in the 2007-2008 school year, said that at one point, she was told by a supervisor, “Do not complain. No one cares about those Mexican kids with a bunch of illegal parents.”
The document cites a 2014 deposition that then-Fayette Superintendent Tom Shelton gave in which he was quoted as saying that it was shocking to him that the district didn’t have an adequate focus on “what I consider equity for students such as those that made up the majority of the student population at Cardinal Valley.”
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Beegle, who is a native of Nicaragua, said she made numerous complaints of illegality, mismanagement and discrimination while she was at Cardinal Valley.
After her resignation, Beegle filed a lawsuit in 2013 asking for lost wages and benefits, emotional distress damages, and attorney fees and costs.
In the court document, Beegle said that district officials knew she had nothing to do with her administrative dean placing a tape recorder in a flower pot and taping teachers as they talked to district officials. The district officials were investigating a grievance that Beegle had harassed a teacher. The taping incident led to Beegle’s suspension, and district officials told her she could resign or be fired.
Beegle contends in the court document that as a manager, she demanded accountability from employees, and her management style angered a few employees.
In 2012, an attorney for the school district told Beegle in a letter that her conduct fell below the conduct required of a Fayette County school employee because she was aware of the secret recording of private employee interviews during a civil rights investigation conducted by a district staffer. The letter said Beegle shared the recordings with Cardinal Valley employees, failed to report the recording with district leadership and retaliated against certain employees who were interviewed during the civil rights investigation.
Beegle said in her court document that “knowing that she did not do these things, but desperate and confused, (she) resigned her employment in lieu of termination.”
In a Jan. 19 court document asking for a judgment that would avoid a jury trial, school district attorney Bob Chenoweth said Beegle has failed to state a claim on several fronts.
The district’s motion said Beegle can’t show that her employer took action or threatened to take action against her.
On Tuesday, Chenoweth declined to comment beyond the court documents.
Beegle’s attorney, Chris Miller, also declined to comment..
In the court document signed by Miller, Beegle said that Cardinal Valley was regularly treated differently than other schools.
During her tenure as principal, Beegle said, she had complained about black mold in the school buildings, overcrowded classrooms, a teacher getting into a fist fight with a student, and the district’s misappropriation of federal funding by allowing a teacher to attend leadership meetings instead of working with underprivileged children as required. She voiced concerns about buses dropping off students at the school before staff had arrived and about a school bus monitor who had leered at students and kicked students off the bus for speaking Spanish.
Beegle contends that despite high numbers of low-income children, and children who were learning the English language, she was able to show double-digit gains in test scores in both math and reading. Before being suspended, she received outstanding evaluations and awards, the court document said.