American Renaissance

Bias Suits Name Rio School District

The actions filed by three white employees allege racial discrimination and harassment by Latino administrators.

Holly J. Wolcott, L. A Times, Apr. 22

Two teachers and a secretary have filed lawsuits against the Rio Elementary School District and its former superintendent, alleging racial discrimination and harassment by a Latino administration.

The lawsuits also allege the white employees were retaliated against for reporting to the Ventura County Grand Jury last year that then-Supt. Yolanda Benitez and others had improperly sought to impose a pro-bilingual educational program in the largely Latino elementary school district.

The lawsuits, filed separately last week and in late February in Ventura County Superior Court, seek a combined $6.2 million in damages from the Oxnard district and Benitez.

One suit also names three former and current board members and two current administrators.

Greg Ramirez, the district’s attorney, could not be reached for comment. And Benitez, who herself has sued the district over her firing in the wake of the grand jury report, said she had not seen one lawsuit and could not comment on the other.

“The district has a legal obligation to provide me counsel [for the two lawsuits] and I am waiting to be contacted,” Benitez said.

In the first suit, Marcia Joedicker-Marino, a second-grade teacher at Rio Plaza Elementary, and Claudia A. Sanders, Benitez’s former secretary, allege the defendants accused them of being “biased against Mexican people” and encouraged others to express hatred toward the women.

The lawsuit names several past and current board members.

The defendants were responsible for “orchestrating and condoning offensive racially and ethnically-motivated actions directed at [the plaintiffs], including allowing parents, students and employees to shun them, to make racially derogatory statements and other insults to or about them, and even spit on them …,” the lawsuit states.

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