Judge allows retaliation claim against Yuba City Unified
A retaliation claim in a federal lawsuit filed by a teacher who contends the Yuba City Unified School District took action against her after she advocated for special education students won't be dismissed, a judge decided Thursday.
Yuba City Unified sought dismissal of the claim in the lawsuit by Lisa Polonsky-Britt.
But enough evidence exists — about the teacher's refusal to obtain waivers from parents for modified academic assessments of their children after the evaluations had already been performed — to warrant trial, Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the federal district court in Sacramento wrote in her ruling.
Polonsky-Britt has worked as a special education teacher in the school district for about 15 years. She worked at April Lane Elementary from 2001-09 and at King Avenue Elementary the next school year. The teacher said she was told her position at April Lane was being reduced from full-time to 80 percent, according to the federal court filing.
The district said budget issues led to the reduction, the federal judge noted in her decision about the dismissal.
Polonsky-Britt contends the school district's retaliation and lack of support led to her taking a medical leave of absence from King Avenue in 2009 because of an excessive caseload, resulting in lost wages and medical bills. She worked at Tierra Buena Elementary beginning in March 2010 and was assigned to Lincrest Elementary for the next school year.
The teacher contends that retaliation continued there because, among other things, Lincrest administrators did not accommodate her visual disability, the judge recounted in her ruling. The undisputed record, however, shows that Lincrest administrators allowed her to choose a classroom with the most natural light and had special lights and covers installed, the judge added.
Polonsky-Britt, as part of her lawsuit filed in 2010, contended she also faced retaliation for confronting school district officials over their promotion of Christian-based religious materials including "Character Counts" classes. But attorneys agreed in 2011 to dismiss that claim in the lawsuit.
The exhibit list for the remaining lawsuit includes emails between district administrators and depositions of schools officials.
The attorney for Yuba City Unified said Friday he was reviewing the federal judge's ruling. The attorney for Polonsky-Britt could not be reached for comment.
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