San Juan Unified's school board said it will investigate nine complaints by former and current district employees lodged with the Fair Employment and Housing Commission.
The complaints all revolve around harsh treatment by Superintendent Glynn Thompson, according to attorney Robert Biegler, who represents the nine women.
Thompson was mean-spirited, harassed employees, forced some to quit and retaliated when they complained, Biegler said.
He and four union and past union representatives asked the school board Wednesday night to put Thompson on administrative leave and to investigate the claims.
At least four of the nine women are considering moving forward with lawsuits, according to the attorney.
The school board returned from a closed session where it had discussed the "anticipated litigation" and announced only that it would investigate the complaints.
"Changing a system can create conflict but I have always valued individuals' ability to share their voice in our district," Thompson wrote in a prepared statement sent to The Bee. "I am committed to supporting a fair and transparent process that allows these concerns to be fully investigated and will do everything I can to help maintain our focus on serving students and families."
Biegler expressed concern about the women mostly senior administrators with daily contact with Thompson who were still working at the district.
"That is why we asked them to put him on administrative leave," Biegler said.
The women who had filed the complaints were not named publicly and did not attend Wednesday's meeting. The complaints were not made available to the public.
But the women are apparently not the only people unhappy with Thompson. Mary Ann Pivetti told the board that she is among a number of people who elected to retire early "because I could no longer tolerate the way I and my fellow administrators were being treated by the person you elected to name as superintendent last year."
She told The Bee that as president and past president of the San Juan Professional Educators Coalition, which represents the district's supervisors, she had spoken to Thompson several times about the way he talked to employees. She said employees complained that Thompson sometimes lost his temper and treated them badly.
"He has said very mean things to people and, as president, they have called me crying," Pivetti said. "He is a loose cannon at times."
Debbie MacDonald said she decided to retire early from her job as a principal because of her dealings with Thompson.
"I felt I need to work with someone with greater integrity," she said Wednesday night. "He wasn't forthright and honest."
Beth Wallace said she worked directly with Thompson during his tenure as chief academic officer, before he was tapped for the superintendent's job. She said she retired early because she found Thompson "intimidating."
Wallace and others say they admire the academic programs that Thompson has brought to the district, but are concerned about his behavior.
After the meeting, Pivetti said she was disappointed that the board failed to put Thompson on administrative leave. "I'm very disappointed that the board would treat the superintendent any different than other employees," she said.
Call The Bee's Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Read her Report Card blog at http://blogs.sacbee.com/report-card/.