Former Pierce schools worker seeks ‘gun show' damages
A former maintenance worker at Pierce Joint Unified School District is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages after he claims he was forced to resign because of retaliation for a complaint he filed against high school officials.
Martin G. Tucker filed a claim against the district on Dec. 19, according to documents made available to the Colusa County Sun-Herald.
In the claim, Tucker asserts that Pierce High Principal George Griffin, Vice Principal Don Friel and Tucker's direct supervisor, Duffy Bailey, hosted a "gun show" in the bus barn on July 31 and Aug. 1 in violation of state law.
The claim states that Griffin "brought the guns onto campus in his pickup, and held a 'gun show' to display and sell the guns."
Tucker's claim further asserts that after he filed the complaint with the district office, he was "retaliated against and constructively forced to resign on August 29."
Attempts to reach school officials were unsuccessful. The district was closed for winter break this week. Messages were left at the homes of board President Abel Gomez and Vice President John Friel on Thursday. No private number was available for Superintendent Ernest Sopp.
The Colusa County District Attorney's Office confirmed that it is investigating the incident to determine if any criminal laws were broken, namely the Gun-free School Zone Act.
Chief investigator Dave Markss said the ongoing investigation was initiated in late August or early September. He was not sure when a final determination would be made.
Classes were not in session at the time of the reported incident. School did not open to students until Aug. 14.
According to the claim, Tucker was "pressured" to attend the show, but "declined knowing it was against the law to bring guns onto a school campus."
The claim states that he then felt obligated to report the matter, which the claim stated he did with the district finance officer.
Tucker further asserts that no one from the district contacted him, and that he was left under the supervision of the same individuals about whom he filed the complaint.
The claim states that Griffin was placed on "a leave of absence for approximately one week."
Tucker further asserts that "he feared for his safety at the school."
The claim also states that Tucker informed Sopp about the "retaliation," and was told the district would look into the matter.
However, the behavior reportedly continued, and there was never any follow-up about which that Tucker is aware, the claim states. "After receiving no help from the district, (Tucker) felt he had no choice but to resign," the claim states.
Griffin, Friel, Bailey and Sopp are listed specifically in the claim, as are the individual members of the school board.
The claim states the damages exceed $10,000, but no specific amount is listed. The injury reportedly incurs for violation of a number of labor and civil laws, including the California Whistleblower Protection Act.
Tucker had to file the claim with the district before he could seek damages in a lawsuit.