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M-A teacher, school district settle dispute

 

A trial date had been set for a dispute between a Menlo-Atherton High School math teacher and school administrators over teaching assignments and classroom accommodations, but a showdown in court is off now that the two sides have agreed to settle.

According to a copy of the complaint, Manuel Delgado, who teaches two classes of basic algebra at M-A, sued the Sequoia Union High School District on allegations of discrimination and retaliation on the part of school officials and claimed damages that included emotional and mental distress and medical expenses.

John Shupe, an attorney representing the high school district, said the two sides reached a settlement on Friday, Oct. 14, but he would not discuss details. Delgado's attorney, David Secrest, has not yet responded to an interview request.

In the complaint, Delgado said he has Type 1 diabetes and an anxiety disorder.

The lawsuit names as defendants Principal Matthew Zito, vice principals Steve Lippi and Simone Rick-Kennel, math department Chair Gregg Whitnah, and Debbie Moore-Washington, an assistant superintendent with the district.

Among Delgado's specific complaints: the cancellation of the computer-oriented math class he had long taught and the assignment of other less credentialed teachers to its replacement. He was reassigned in 2008 to teach living skills and an English class for students preparing for the high school exit exam, material for which he said he had not been trained.

The defendants would not talk with the Almanac about this case, but Susan Vickrey of the Sequoia district's human resources office said in a telephone interview that Delgado is qualified to teach algebra 1, which is typically an eighth-grade class. His credentials "are extremely limiting if you're talking about teaching high school math," she said.

In 2009, along with the English classes, Delgado said in the complaint that he was assigned two classes of algebra for students with "below basic" preparation. The stresses associated with teaching these students, who present an "array of discipline problems," led two psychiatrists to recommend that Delgado not teach below-basic kids, he said.

About 30 percent of Sequoia district students are considered under-prepared, Vickrey said. "It would be far-fetched to find any teachers who don't teach below-basic and far-below-basic kids (simply) because they are so much of our population."

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