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Teacher Sues District for Lost Wages and Deprivation of Civil Rights After Being Berated By Principal Over MAGA Hat

He says he faced severe harassment and bias from principal Caroline Garrett, district human resources manager Janae Gomes, and his coworkers.

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A public school teacher is suing his Washington school district claiming that he was berated by the principal for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat — violating his constitutional right to freedom of speech.

The teacher, Eric Dodge, worked in the district for 17 years until a recent leave because he had a stroke.

When Dodge was returning to teach science during the 2019-2020 school year at Wy’east Middle School, he says that he faced severe harassment and bias from principal Caroline Garrett, district human resources manager Janae Gomes, and his coworkers due to his political beliefs.

According to the complaint, Dodge suffered “emotional devastation” and a “recurrence of debilitating stroke symptoms” after being “verbally attacked and defamed by his new principal for the political opinions he held as a private citizen — specifically, statements in support of President Trump.”

The recurrence of his stroke symptoms left him unable to return to work.

“As a public employer, the school district must respect its employees’ constitutional rights, and it must create a safe and non-partisan environment that is open to everyone,’’ read a statement released Wednesday by Michael Estok, an attorney representing Dodge. “Relatedly, as the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized, public employees ‘do not renounce their citizenship when they accept employment’ with a public entity; rather, they continue to enjoy the same rights — including under the First Amendment — that form the bedrock of civil society.”

“Here, even though Mr. Dodge was a respected and long-standing teacher in Evergreen’s schools, upon just beginning his new assignment at Wy’east Middle School, he was ridiculed and attacked — and was even threatened with disciplinary action — by his new principal simply because he had previously expressed support for President Trump,’’ Estok’s release continued.

Prior to the beginning of the new academic year, Dodge had attended two days of staff training sessions at the school. The first day was a training on “racial equity” and “implicit bias.” He says that he had the hat with him, as some of the training was outside, but did not wear it in the school building.

A district investigation found that he did nothing wrong by having the hat with him.

Still, other teachers were infuriated that someone would dare to support the president of this nation on a school campus.

“On Aug. 22, Dodge arrived for racial equity training at the school, and had put on the “Make America Great Again” hat on his way into the building. In his lawsuit, Dodge said he had previously purchased the hat as a “conversation-starter, with the idea of explaining that ordinary and normal people support Trump, despite some of Trump’s flaws,” and to protect his head from sun damage. Dodge said he removed the hat once he entered the building,” the Columbian reports.

Several of the teachers complained to the training seminar instructor and administrators about the hat. A teacher named Amy Matsumoto, told investigators she was “shocked” that he would wear the hat to that seminar specifically and said that their Latino and Mexican students may be “uncomfortable” if he were to wear the hat to class.

After the training ended, Principal Garrett confronted him about “the impact he was having on the learning environment of his colleagues,” some of whom felt “worried, upset, threatened and intimidated,” according to the investigation.

She claims that she told him to “use good judgement” and that the confrontation ended there.

The next day, Dodge left his hat in his car, but went and got it for an outdoor training to protect his head from the sun. The principal then received a text from a “concerned” teacher and decided to approach him about it once again.

Garrett claimed that she simply explained that his coworkers were concerned, Dodge recalled the incident drastically differently.

According to the Columbian report, the lawsuit alleges that Garrett became “aggressive and hostile,” demanding to know “what is the f—ing deal with you and your hat?” Dodge also claims Garrett berated him, calling him a “racist,” “bigot,” “homophobe,” “liar” and “hateful person.”

Dodge filed a complaint with human resources, but claims that they too were biased and unfair with him. He claims that the district tried to get him to withdraw his complaint, but he refused.

Eventually it escalated to a private meeting of the school board and ten days later Garrett resigned after ten years on the job. She received all her accrued vacation and sick leave and a severance equal to her salary from April 2 through June — roughly $150,170.

Estok’s statement said that “this attack was particularly devastating because Mr. Dodge had just returned to working after an absence to rehabilitate from a stroke. The hostile environment created by the principal caused his previously-resolved stroke symptoms to immediately return. These symptoms — including a verbal stutter and a loss in coordination — have now made Mr. Dodge unable to teach or continue his livelihood. Even worse, when Mr. Dodge filed an internal complaint, the principal — who had a well-established practice of pushing her own political ideology at the school and creating a double standard with her staff based on their political beliefs — worked in concert with the district’s HR director to minimize and distort what had happened, in an effort to protect the principal’s position and to further harm Mr. Dodge.’’

Dodge was initially placed on administrative leave by the district, but later transferred to an unpaid leave of absence. He has already used all of his sick leave earlier in the year.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Filomena Poli Aleman

    April 29, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    This is par for the course. As a teacher of 34 years I believe this is the treatment the teacher received from the school district. They can be bullies ironically. Also as a supporter of President Trump, when you wear a MAGA hat you become a target. Therefore your civil rights are diminished. For the sake of the teacher’s health and we’ll being he was smart to get away from all the negativity, especially from his immediate supervisor and the HR department. I hope he has retained a good lawyer and he gets every penny he deserves.

  2. Melvin

    April 29, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    No safe place for the red cap man. The power of a red cap to trigger an entire education staff of lefties or were they harboring illegals?

  3. Stacey

    April 29, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    I hope he sues the district, former principal, HR staff, including OTHER TEACHING STAFF for their verbal attacks FOR EVERYTHING THEY OWN. This folks is why homeschooling is growing….exponentially. Parents are sick and tired of the propaganda and indoctrination that is now occurring in our children’s schools. My 11 yr old son’s PE teacher dared to ridicule him last year for his political beliefs and yes, I happily put him back in his place. Teach our children math, English, reading and science….keep your vile and intolerant beliefs OUT OF THE CLASSROOM or you will find yourself out of a job and your wallets a lot less heavy.

  4. David

    April 29, 2020 at 11:15 pm

    These are the same people who are teaching our children. Makes you stop and think about who we are putting in charge of our children. These are left wing wakos who need to find a nother line of work.

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WATCH: Los Angeles Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti Booed HARD At Dodgers Opener

Los Angeles Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti was massively booed at the Dodgers home opener on Friday afternoon.

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Los Angeles Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti was massively booed at the Dodgers home opener on Friday afternoon.

It was the first game at the stadium in over 18 months.

“For more than a year, we’ve been warned that singing, chanting and yelling is best avoided, for fear of exhaling virus-carrying droplets. On Friday, thousands of fans at Dodger Stadium exhaled loudly, booing Garcetti as if he were Chase Utley in New York,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Garcetti was at the event to commemorate the Dodgers’ victory in the World Series last fall.

When he was introduced as the team geared up to hoist their championship banner, the crowd did not hold back their massive displeasure with the liberal mayor.

The mayor continued to wave and act normal during the prolonged booing, though his mask made it hard to fully make out his reaction.

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Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Buys $1.4 Million Compound in Extremely White California Neighborhood

Black Lives may matter to her, but she apparently does not want to live near them.

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Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors has purchased a $1.4 million compound in Topanga Canyon — an area with barely any black people.

The 37-year-old social justice warrior will definitely not have to worry about any of the riots she helps to stoke while tucked away in the ritzy upscale neighborhood.

The racial makeup of Topanga is 7,313 (88.2%) White (84.5% Non-Hispanic White), 117 (1.4%) African American, 35 (0.4%) Native American, 353 (4.3%) Asian, 3 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 125 (1.5%) from other races, and 343 (4.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 534 persons (6.4%).

“Kahn-Cullors, a UCLA and USC graduate married about five years ago to social activist (and amateur boxer) Janaya Khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag in 2013 in response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin,” the Dirt reports. “Since then, the largely decentralized movement has been at the influential forefront on issues of police brutality and racially motivated violence against Black people, particularly in the wake of George Floyd’s killing last summer that sparked massive protests across the United States and around the globe. Kahn-Cullors’ published ‘When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir’ in 2018.”

According to the real estate website The Dirt, the home is a “winding 15 minute drive from The Commons at Calabasas and a slightly longer and somewat less serpentine drive from Malibu’s Getty Villa, the pint-sized compound spans about one-quarter of an acre. The property’s not-quite 2,400 square feet is divided between the a three-bedroom and two-bath main house and a separate one-bed/one-bath apartment capable of hosting guests long term with a private entry and a living room with kitchenette.”

“Interior spaces feature bamboo floors and, in the spacious open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen, vaulted ceilings clad in knotty pine. A whitewashed raised hearth brick fireplace anchors the living room and numerous skylights baths the cavernous space with natural light.”

Black Lives may matter to her, but she apparently does not want to live near them.

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MUST WATCH: California Restaurant Owner Blocks Health Inspector’s Car, ‘If We Can’t Work, You Can’t Work’

A GoFundMe campaign to support the restaurant has raised over $20,000.

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A heroic California restaurant owner blocked in a Los Angeles County health inspector’s car after he attempted to shut his business down for allowing outdoor dining, asserting that “if we can’t work, you can’t work.”

Carlos Roman, the owner of Bread & Barley in Covina, did not back down even after police arrived.

“He wants to come in here and say that no one can work, so he can’t work either,” Roman told the officer. “He decided to come today and take photos of the people outside and say that he was going to fine us,” he explained.

https://twitter.com/hollandcourtney/status/1343623418910973953

Roman refused to move his truck, telling the officer to go ahead and get her supervisor.

“This is what happens when people get desperate. I’m desperate. Who is going to pay her car payment? Who is going to pay my cook’s rent?” Roman asked the officer. “I want it to be hard on everyone. I want everyone to see how hard this sh-t is.”

The outraged owner demanded to know if the inspector and the officer got paychecks last week, asserting that his employees haven’t.

“You’re just doing your job right, we’re all in this together?” Roman asked the inspector. “When I go to the bank, can I tell the bank the health department said it’s ok and that I don’t have to pay you?”

“What do I tell my employees?” Roman shouted.

Roman is now facing two $500 fines for failure to comply and interfering with the health officer.

A GoFundMe campaign to support the restaurant has raised over $20,000.

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