Agency rules retaliation claim has merit

Russell Anglin

The state human rights bureau determined a Tucumcari special education teacher’s retaliation complaint has merit.

The bureau issued a determination of probable cause March 31 stating Linda Lambert has sufficient evidence to claim school district officials retaliated against her for complaining of sexual harassment by former school principal David Castillo.

Lambert claims she was re-assigned to a position she was not qualified for after filing the complaint with the school district.

“They moved me without telling me why. Even when I sent a letter requesting not to be moved into this position, they turned around and did it anyway,” Lambert said.

Carol S. Helms, an attorney representing Tucumcari Public Schools, declined comment by phone April 5.

A formal human rights bureau hearing is scheduled for August 2 and 3 in the event Lambert and the school district do not come to a conciliation agreement.

The Quay County Sun sent an open records request to school superintendent Aaron McKinney by mail March 29 to obtain the settlement terms reached by the school district and employee Dianne Trujillo, who reached an out-of-court settlement with the school district for her sexual harassment and retaliation complaint, according to Charles Goodmacher, an associate with the National Education Association of New Mexico .

McKinney responded to the request by mail, stating the district had no such records responsive to the request.

“They had an oral agreement that included writing up a written agreement,” Goodmacher said of Trujillo and the school district. “The last I heard … a written agreement wasn’t signed yet. I have no understanding why it hasn’t been done yet.”

Goodmacher said he was not aware of any determination by the human rights bureau regarding school employees Lateresa Brake and Terrie Maestas, who have also filed complaints against the school district.

In November, Carrie Moritomo, public relations officer with the State of New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, confirmed a determination of probable cause issued Aug. 23, 2010 in response to Trujillo’s formal complaint alleging she was sexually harassed by Castillo, and that Trujillo’s complaints to supervisors were not properly addressed.

According to the document, Trujillo submitted statements to the human rights bureau claiming Castillo began to sexually harass her in 2008 and that a supervisor told her to “just go along with it” when she complained in November 2009.

The document states Castillo denied the allegations and claimed there was nothing inappropriate about their relationship. The document also states other women have said they were sexually harassed by Castillo.

Castillo was put on paid administrative leave Nov. 11, 2009. Castillo resigned from his position April 6, 2010.

McKinney was unavailable for comment Monday.

Castillo could not be reached for comment Monday.