The Tempe Union High School District governing board today plans to discuss a former assistant principal’s lawsuit claiming wrongful termination under the whistleblower statute.
Jane Jones, a registrar and assistant principal at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee Foothills from 1995 to 2002, claims she was fired for protesting grade changes and boundary exceptions made for the benefit of student athletes.
The suit also states the behavior of the school’s principal, Joe McDonald, created a hostile work environment by being "frequently abusive and intimidating in his treatment of personnel."
District spokeswoman Nicole Greason said Tuesday she could not comment on what the board might discuss at the meeting, closed to the public, or on the claims made in the lawsuit.
The district has not filed a formal response to the complaint made in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Julie Blumenreich, a lawyer with the firm representing the district, could not say Tuesday when a response might be filed.
The complaint was served in April on McDonald, district Superintendent James Buchanan, human resources director Janet Seegren, and the five people who sat on the district’s board when it decided not to renew Jones’ contract in March 2002, after McDonald submitted a negative evaluation of her performance.
The lawsuit says the evaluation, on which Jones received her lowest marks during her tenure at Desert Vista, was retaliation for her objection to an incident the previous summer.
The suit claims McDonald had three teachers change grades on a recent Desert Vista graduate’s transcript so she would not lose an athletic scholarship for not meeting NCAA requirements.
The suit said this was done at Buchanan’s suggestion after the student’s mother told him the student would have qualified for special education classes had she been evaluated, the suit said.
Buchanan said he could not comment on the allegations. McDonald did not return calls seeking comment.
The board’s closed session will begin 5 p.m. today, with a study session at 6 p.m. and regular meeting at 7 p.m.