South Sound News

Clover Park to pay 7 figures to ex-administrator who opposed sex offender transfers

School books file photo

CLOVER PARK, Wash. — The Clover Park School District has agreed to pay a former administrator $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged she was retaliated against for opposing the "irresponsible transfer of known sexual predators" among schools.

Moureen David sued the district in November, arguing she lost her job after she raised issues with how administrators handled exchange students, English language learners and students accused of sex crimes.

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She was the assistant superintendent of secondary schools until the district let her contract expire in June 2017.

The school board approved the settlement with David at its meeting Monday night.

"The district has been involved in litigation with Ms. David for more than a year, and we stand by the decision that was made regarding her employment," school district spokeswoman Kim Prentice said Tuesday. "However, the district felt it was in its best interest to resolve Ms. David's claim."

Her attorney, James Beck, told The News Tribune on Tuesday that David "provided almost two decades of dedicated service to the school district, making sure that students' safety and education was paramount. While it's unfortunate her career ended in the manner it did, she feels proud about the work she did for the school district."

Beck, who occasionally represents The News Tribune, added: "Children aren't going to be in a safe environment if employees don't feel free to speak out about situations in which students may be at risk of sexual assault, sexual harassment or policies breaking down in that regard."

Clover Park has said it got a complaint in September 2016 that David had created a hostile work environment, and the district hired consultants to investigate.

When she learned she was being investigated, David wrote Superintendent Debbie LeBeau.

"The complaint about me," David said, "is in retaliation to my steadfast opposition to discrimination against ELL (English language learner) students, special education students, and the irresponsible transfer of known sexual predators between schools in the district, which has lead to sexual discrimination and harassment of our students."

David's dismissal letter, filed with the lawsuit, states that consultants ultimately recommended someone else oversee the secondary schools, partly because the district might have trouble keeping and recruiting other administrators if David stayed.

According to David's lawsuit:

She raised concerns about a Lakes High School student who assaulted another student before school in May 2016, and was transferred to Lochburn Middle School. David alleged the move happened without Lochburn's principal being told of the student's troubles.

David also had concerns about an alleged plan to boost the district's scores on standardized tests by changing the grade level of exchange students to keep them from taking the exams.

And she alleged the district was putting English language learners on a five-year graduation plan.

The settlement also covers another lawsuit David filed against Clover Park, which alleged inadequate answers to her requests for records.