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LAPS Files Response To David Daniel Suit

on November 28, 2017 - 8:57am
Former LAHS drama instructor David Daniel
 
By MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos Daily Post

Los Alamos Public Schools, Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and former Los Alamos High School Principal Brad Parker have filed a response to a lawsuit filed in July by former LAHS drama instructor David Daniel alleging sexual orientation discrimination.

The response denies almost all the allegations made by Daniel and claims he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies under the School Personnel Act and/or the collective bargaining agreement, which covered his employment with LAPS.

Daniel’s suit alleges that when he was hired he told Parker he is gay and very involved with Proposition 8 and the LGBT community because he felt that some parents might object to his involvement issues. His suit claims that from the outset of his employment, he was “beset with inappropriate and offensive comments”. Daniel’s suit accuses Parker of telling Daniel he would be “perfect for the kids that don’t fit in anywhere,” and on another occasion, “You’ve changed my opinion of your people”. The LAPS response agrees that Daniel told Parker he is gay but denies the rest of these allegations. 

The suit alleges that following a school-wide assembly on mental health issues facing the community that was linked to the XQ Super Schools Project, a vice principal privately shared with Daniel the results of a survey given to teachers about their response to the assembly. The suit claims one of the surveys refers to Daniel as a “naïve, blue-shoed yahoo” who “had no business standing in front of our kids”. The LAPS response denies those allegations.

The suit alleges Daniel faced discrimination from the staff who ran Duane Smith Auditorium, including manager Ross Mason “who had conservative political leanings” and that Daniel was told to “butch up” when he was to be around Mason. It claims Daniel made formal complaints to his immediate supervisor, Mason’s supervisor and Steinhaus regarding Mason’s behavior, “expressing concern for his own safety and the safety of his students” but that no action was taken regarding “Mason’s assault and use of hate speech on school grounds”. LAPS also denied these allegations in its response.

The LAPS response also denies accusations LAPS and Parker engaged in sexual orientation discrimination and violated Daniel’s right to be free from discrimination in the workplace under the New Mexico state statute on unlawful discriminatory practice. It also denies LAPS permitted a homophobic environment to exist. It denies that Parker and Steinhaus terminated Daniel from his job “with intent to injure him” and that Steinhaus’ and Parker’s alleged actions were “intentional and outside the course and scope of employment duties”.

Daniel is asking for compensatory damages, punitive damages and court costs. His attorney is H. Jesse Jacobus, III, of Albuquerque. He has filed a demand for a six-person jury trial.

LAPS has asked the Court to dismiss the case stating that Daniel fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The school district also maintains that any injuries or damages were the result of Daniel’s own neglect or the neglect of other persons or entities.


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