Details of Settlement in Dallas ISD Sexual Harassment, Racial Discrimination Suit Are Released

Tonya Sadler Grayson, a former executive director of human resources in Dallas ISD during the latter days of former Superintendent Mike Miles, will receive $60,000 in a settlement agreement with DISD, putting an end to her lawsuit that alleged race and sex discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.Grayson was fired in July 2015, shortly after Superintendent Michael Hinojosa rejoined the district in an interim role.As part of the settlement, which came after mediation between the two parties, DISD agreed to accept Grayson’s resignation effective July 2015, according to district records obtained earlier this month by The Dallas Morning News.A Dallas ISD spokesperson said that the district would not comment, citing its policy on personnel matters.Now the director of human capital resources and payroll at SOWELA Technical Community College in Lake Charles, La., Grayson could not be reached for comment. The settlement agreement she signed with DISD prohibits her from discussing the terms and conditions of the settlement.Nine months after her firing, in April 2016, Grayson filed suit against DISD and trustee Lew Blackburn in federal court.In her suit, Grayson, who is black, alleged that she faced a hostile work environment created by racial discrimination and sexual harassment, faced retaliation after reporting it to the district, and was denied due process during her firing, leading to a stigmatizing effect of other employment opportunities.She claimed that Blackburn had asked for “sexual favors in return for protecting her job and supporting her in the workplace,” an allegation that Blackburn strongly denied.In March 2017, U.S. District Judge David Godbey dismissed a large portion of Grayson's amended complaint, removing Blackburn from the suit entirely. Godbey ruled that Grayson failed to show "persistent and widespread practice of discrimination amounting to a custom." Godbey also wrote that Grayson failed to properly allege that Blackburn denied an appeal of her termination because of her race. Blackburn was part of a three-member panel who heard the appeal of her firing.DISD and Grayson agreed to alternative dispute resolution, a type of mediation, in October.Her 18 months in the personnel and HR departments under Miles were turbulent.Grayson failed to disclose a misdemeanor trespassing charge in Georgia, and the resulting 12 months of probation, on her job application, and later misled the district’s communications department about it.She filed a formal complaint against trustee Bernadette Nutall with Miles, saying that she felt threatened after firing athletics personnel following DISD’s recruiting scandal in June 2014; Nutall was later cleared of wrongdoing by an outside investigator.In April 2015, Grayson was charged with misdemeanor assault, after allegedly grabbing an employee after notifying her that she was fired. Those charges were later dropped.In a May 2015 report, district auditors found that Grayson had bullied a subordinate, falsifying part of an evaluation and subsequently retaliating against that employee when a grievance was filed.“Throughout her tenure ... Tonya Sadler Grayson has engaged in a pattern of deceptive and dishonest practices,” the report read.In her court filings, Grayson called the decision to launch an internal investigation “arbitrary and capricious,” saying it was instigated by Nutall.Nutall said the school district had advised her not to comment. Blackburn did not respond to requests for comment.  Continue reading...

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