Paso Robles teacher demoted after reporting sexual harassment, lawsuit alleges

A Paso Robles teacher who reported that a male colleague inappropriately touched two female students and used a racial slur in class has sued the district. After reporting the allegations, the teacher faced harassment and was ultimately demoted, according to a lawsuit. [Tribune]

In the lawsuit, former Liberty Continuation High School teacher Lora Dixon raises 22 complaints against Paso Robles Joint Unified School District officials. Dixon alleges she was retaliated and discriminated against for bringing forward allegations about the male teacher’s conduct.

Dixon alleges two female students accused the male teacher of touching them inappropriately in January and Feb. 2017.

One student said the teacher called her demeaning names in front of the class and inappropriately rubbed her thighs, even though she constantly told him to stop. The other student said the teacher inappropriately touched her butt, groin and thighs.

Dixon said she reported the first student’s complaints to Fred Kloepper, the president of Paso Robles Educators, and to Tina Lessi, a school counselor. The following day, the male teacher got in Dixon’s face, aggressively pointed and yelled, “I thought we had a deal that you would come to me with this student drama,” according to the lawsuit.

After the second student complained about the male teacher, her parents reported him to the police. The following day, another teacher berated the student and called her a liar, according to the suit.

In response to the complaints, a staff meeting was held in which teachers expressed frustration with the student complaints and gave Dixon disapproving glares, the lawsuit alleges. Dixon later received a negative performance evaluation from Jennifer Gaviola, the deputy superintendent, as well as a letter of reprimand.

Late in Feb. 2017, Dixon was transferred out of Liberty Continuation High and demoted to the role of substitute teacher.

Dixon is still employed by the school district. The male teacher named in the lawsuit is in good standing with the district, Gaviola said.

Paso Robles police confirmed there is an investigative report regarding the male teacher. Police also said the investigation remains active.