Albisu to get $50,000 to settle lawsuit against Ontario School District

ONTARIO – Nikki Albisu, Ontario School District superintendent, has agreed to accept $50,000 to settle a lawsuit against her employer, ending a long-running battle over her discrimination claims.

According to court documents filed Wednesday, Feb. 28, Albisu accepted an offer from the district’s lawyers to resolve claims she suffered gender discrimination. She will also get an unknown amount for her attorney costs.

Dan Snyder, Albisu’s attorney, said in a Sunday, March 3 email, said PACE, the insurance company for the school district, made an offer to have a court judgment issued against the district in Albisu’s favor. The move was done under a federal court procedure that allows a defendant to offer a judgment 14 days before a trial is scheduled to start party, according to Snyder.

Bret Mersereau, the attorney for the district who filed the offer, declined to comment in a Monday, March 4 email.

Snyder said Albisu had been through “a lot of abuse” before suing the district.

“Please be sensitive to Ms. Albisu,” Snyder said. “She suffered a lot of abuse prior to filing a lawsuit.”

Albisu did not respond to a request for comment.

Bret Uptmor, board chair, said Monday, March 4, that the board had not been involved in the decision to offer the money to Albisu.

“I don’t have any information to share,” Uptmor said.

Albisu sued the district in 2022 in U.S. District Court, claiming she had suffered gender discrimination, detailing in her complaint instances involving former Ontario School Board members dating back five years.

Attorneys for the district in court filings contended that Albisu has received good job reviews and pay raises, contradicting claims that she has suffered.

Albisu’s original complaint left it to a court to decide whether she was entitled to any money and how much. The two sides met Feb. 14 to mediate their dispute but that didn’t produce a resolution.

In her complaint, Albisu recounted instances involving two former Ontario School Board members dating back five years.

Albisu’s complaint and a 2019 letter that purported to be from 14 of 18 Ontario administrators alleged discrimination by then-board members Derrick Draper and Eric Evans Draper quit the board in 2021 and Evans finished out his term and didn’t seek reelection.

A subsequent investigation by an outside attorney for the board found Draper violated district policies in his conduct. The report noted that it was “uncertain” whether Draper engaged in harassment in his dealings with certain administrators.

The investigator reported that she couldn’t confirm allegations that Draper and Evans had engaged in racial or sexual harassment of school administrators.

The board censured Evans and Draper, prompting Draper to resign.

In a deposition last September, Draper could recall no details of his time on the board. A deposition is testimony given under oath.

Draper answered “I don’t recall” or, “I don’t remember” over 140 times in roughly 50 minutes of questioning from Snyder. He couldn’t remember when he served on the board, whether he had been barred from Four Rivers Community School, or if he was friends with people he knew.

“Do you have a temper?” he was asked.

“I don’t remember,” Draper responded, according to the deposition.

He didn’t respond Monday to a request for comment.

Albisu was named interim superintendent in 2012 and was appointed permanently a year later.

In 2022, Albisu signed a three-year contract with an annual salary of $145,300 and annual cost-of-living increases.

The earlier investigator’s report recounted an incident where Draper met with Albisu and Jodi Elizondo, then principal at Ontario High School. Draper was alleged to have been intimidating during the meeting, “screaming” and “slamming his hands on the table.”

During his deposition, Draper was questioned about the meeting with Elizondo and Albisu where he was alleged to have yelled so loud other administrators in the office could hear him. Draper answered that he could not remember.

Albisu outlined in her lawsuit her 2021 performance evaluation and dealings with the board on her employment contract.

She also filed a state complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

“Superintendent Albisu has been harassed, intimidated, evaluated more harshly and retaliated against because she refused to conform to their dominant male gender roles and personal agendas and demands,” according to the complaint.

The agency dismissed the complaint in 2022.

Albisu “was not able to provide substantial evidence that she was discriminated or retaliated against due to a protected class, or for engaging in protected whistle-blowing activities or use of protected leave,” the agency said in its summary.


Ex-board member says 67 times: ‘I don’t recall’

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