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High Jinks Alleged at Junior High School

PHOENIX (CN) - In a whistleblower complaint, an assistant principal claims she was repeatedly passed over for promotions after reporting her principal's sexual affairs with his subordinates.

Elizabeth McCoy sued Gilbert Unified School District No. 41, its Superintendent Dave Allison, and Highland Junior High School Principal Brian Yee, in Maricopa County Court.

McCoy claims she was passed over for promotions after she "reported a long history of improper and inappropriate conduct by Brian Yee, a principal at Highland Junior High School."

According to the 22-page complaint, in August 2010 Yee hired (nonparty) Kelly Lambeth as dean of students, "even though she scored third out of five candidates."

The complaint states: "Later that month, Ann Dugan, a psychologist at Highland Junior High School, arrived at her office with a client and saw a pile of men's and women's clothing on the floor outside of Yee's office.

"Yee and Kelly Lambeth were inside Yee's office.

"Moments later, Yee wearing only a pair of sweat pants, arrived at Dugan's office and screamed 'leave and never come back after school or on weekends again.'"

McCoy claims that Yee harassed Dugan, and after she reported his behavior to the school district she was transferred to another school.

McCoy claims that several teachers came to her office in December 2010 to tell her "that Yee had called them out of class to tell them to stop discussing his relationship with his subordinate, Lambeth."

On Feb. 16, 2011, McCoy says, she met with Shane McCord, the school district's assistant superintendent of administrative services, to discuss staff evaluations of Yee. McCoy claims that several teachers had told her they had provided great detail about Yee's "relationship with Lambeth, his management style, and his retaliation" in their evaluations.

But "McCord told McCoy Yee was not going anywhere, and the district was not concerned," according to the complaint.

It continues: "McCoy knew the district was covering for Yee because her report alone contained sufficient detail to concern the district. Her report stated:

"Staff had caught Yee and Lambeth in compromising position in locked closets during and after school.

"Yee and Lambeth would disappear from campus within minutes of each other and then reappear hours later, again within minutes of each other.

"Yee and Lambeth often spent three or four hours together in Yee's office with the door shut during school hours.

"Yee threatened staff who discussed his affair with Lambeth.

"The report also listed thirty seven meetings or communications between January 2011 and July 2012 regarding Yee's inappropriate behavior, bullying, and retaliation."

McCoy claims the district "confronted" Yee about his affair with Lambeth in February 2011, and moved Lambeth her to another campus.

Yee then increased McCoy's workload to include some of his and the dean of students' responsibilities because he thought she had reported the affair to the school district, McCoy says.

McCoy says she had previously "filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and as part of a settlement with the EEOC, the district provided a mentoring agreement to prepare McCoy for principal with the expectation that McCoy would be promoted when she completed her part of the agreement."

But McCoy says she continued to be passed over for principal positions for "less-qualified, younger, male candidates," prompting her to file another EEOC claim.

On June 23, 2011, Yee "provided a scathing evaluation of McCoy, which was prepared in violation of board policy that requires evaluations to be conducted by May 1 each year," McCoy says in the complaint.

In September 2011, Yee's assistant transferred to another campus, and he filled the position with McCoy's assistant, Kelly Sherwood, the complaint states. McCoy says in the complaint that school employees "had previously caught Yee and Sherwood in compromising positions multiple times, and their inappropriate relationship continued after she became his assistant."

McCoy says that on Nov. 3, 2011, Sherwood "sent an email to parents regarding the athletic banquet and used the term 'Fag Football,' instead of 'Flag Football.'"

The error was not typographical "evidence by Sherwood's failure to apologize or correct the comment and that during the banquet she continued to make sexual comments and laughed about her email," according to the complaint.

Yee did not inform the school district about "what had happened and how people were offended by Sherwood's comment and conduct," the complaint states.

Then in February 2012, all teachers and staff were told "they were required to submit to interviews by an attorney hired by the district" after 11 anonymous letters complaining about Yee were sent to the governing board and the press, according to the complaint.

McCoy says they were told no one would be retaliated against.

Before each interview, "Yee would appear outside the interviewee's classroom door, or enter their classroom, and stand there and stare at them," the complaint states.

McCoy says when she met with Matthew Wright, "the attorney the district hired to conduct the interviews," Wright told her she would probably "prefer meeting" with his colleague, Dominic Verstegan, "because he is better looking."

McCoy seeks compensatory damages and "equitable relief," requiring the district to adopt objective hiring criteria.

She is represented by Kevin Koelbel, of Chandler.

Gilbert, a city of 218,000, is a western suburb of Phoenix.

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