Teacher sues Evergreen schools

Former associate principal claims sexual harassment, gender discrimination

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

Published:

 

An Evergreen Public Schools educator has filed a lawsuit against the district.

Elizabeth Uelmen, a teacher at Shahala Middle School, claims sexual harassment, gender discrimination, unlawful retaliatory adverse employment action, retaliatory adverse employment action for opposing an unfair practice and negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is claiming damages of not less than $4 million.

Uelmen, who was an associate principal at Cascade Middle School for seven years, claims that she suffered retaliation after reporting inappropriate behavior by another associate principal at Cascade, Elten Paul "Tim" Dotson.

According to the complaint for damages, Uelmen reported to higher-level administrators that Dotson was engaged in sexual relationships with two women subordinates at the school. Although Uelmen had received positive employee reviews until then, after she reported Dotson's behavior to the district office she began receiving negative reviews.

Eventually, Uelmen was transferred to Frontier Middle School to continue as an associate principal, but she continued to receive negative employee reviews. In September, Uelmen says, she was demoted and sent to Shahala Middle School as a classroom teacher, resulting in a $33,000 annual pay cut. As an associate principal at Frontier, Uelmen was paid $102,859 for the 2012-13 school year.

Dotson, meanwhile, was put on administrative leave while the district investigated him and his performance. Eventually, he was terminated, said district spokeswoman Gail Spolar.

A district document from March 22, 2012, cites "reports of sexual harassment and other policy violations" by Dotson and describes Cascade Middle School as "a workplace that was rife with rumors and scandal that severely disrupted the work and educational environment."

An educator since 1993, Uelmen has been employed by Evergreen Public Schools since September 2004. She is represented by Marty McLean, an attorney with Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a Seattle law firm.