Paul Burke, the popular former principal at Oak Ridge High School, has sued the El Dorado Union High School District in federal court in Sacramento complaining that he was falsely accused of sexually harassing a female teacher and then wrongfully terminated.
The suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California names as individual defendants Superintendent Stephen Wehr; Assistant Superintendent Tony DeVille, who is in charge of human resources for the district; and Courtney McGinty Soto, Burke’s former administrative assistant. It says the purported victim of harassment vehemently denied having been harassed.
The suit cites violations of acts governing civil rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also complains of violations of the Brown Act closed-meeting law and says the defendants defamed and retaliated against him. In connection with the ADA complaint, the suit says Burke has benign tremor syndrome, a neurological condition.
Wehr, speaking on behalf of the district and the individual defendants, said in an email that the matter is being handled by the school district’s attorneys. “Any information about the lawsuit that is a matter of public record can be found in the court’s records, as they develop,” he wrote.
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On Nov. 2, 2015, the district put Burke on administrative leave and hired a consultant to investigate what it described only as an undisclosed personnel matter. Hundreds of parents and students rallied behind the principal in public meetings and demanded that the district quickly resolve the issue. District trustees voted Feb. 29 to keep Burke on administrative leave and terminate him at the end of the current school year.
A consultant hired by the district said in a report that Burke frequently used profanity, periodically lost his temper and made derogatory comments about teachers, parents and students. His supporters disagreed with those findings, and Burke pointed to two “exemplary” evaluations he received.