Ex-LCE Principal Amends Lawsuit

Christine Castillo
Christine Castillo

Christine Castillo, the former La Cañada Elementary School principal, has amended her lawsuit against La Cañada Unified School District to include wrongful termination, her attorney Ben Meiselas said Wednesday.
Late last year, Castillo filed suit against the district, alleging that officials discriminated against her by subjecting her to unfair treatment that included demotion and reassignment when she told them she was pregnant shortly after being hired in 2012.
On Tuesday, Castillo filed a complaint of employment discrimination with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, claiming she has “suffered further discrimination and retaliation that continues to the present.”
“She was doing her taxes and she requested a wage statement from the district, and the secretary printed it out, and the employee status said, ‘Terminated,’” Meiselas said. “So either you’ve terminated her and haven’t told us or … you’ve undermined her ability to ever return.”
The district denied that Castillo — who has been on indefinite leave — had been terminated, according to a statement from Ellen Multari, the spokeswoman for the LCUSD Governing Board.
In the statement, Multari wrote that Castillo remains on the district’s 39-month rehire list and “is eligible to return at any point during that time to a teaching position for which she is credentialed and qualified.”
According to the district, its business office was closed on Friday, March 24, when Castillo asked for tax reporting information. To accommodate the request, 2016 earnings reports were printed from the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s payroll system, which showed Castillo, who no longer has paid status, was terminated because that’s “the way the county payroll system functions,” Multari wrote.
“I can’t see how ‘termination’ is a typo,” Meiselas said. “And if that wasn’t the intention, it’s still become an intolerable situation and undermined her ability to return. She’s not coming back one way or another.”
He said Castillo also is claiming that LCUSD officials have defamed her in public comments they’ve made since the suit was filed.
“We’ve been hearing from our sources inside that [Superintendent Wendy Sinnette has] been going around to different booster groups and school groups and, in one case, that she did it front of Christine’s husband [La Cañada High School Principal Ian McFeat], and called Christine a liar and said that Christine is a problem for the district and that the teachers should side with the administration,” Meiselas said.
Again, the district denied that Sinnette made public comments defaming Castillo. According to Wednesday’s statement, Multari and board President Dan Jeffries have only reiterated the board’s December statement of support for Sinnette.
Multari’s most recent statement also indicated that Sinnette met with members of the LCE staff when they returned from winter break because there was concern that media members might be on campus.
The message during that meeting, according to Multari, “was that teachers should feel supported to focus upon teaching and learning in their classrooms as the district administration and Governing Board would handle any matters associated with the lawsuit with direction from legal counsel.”

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