Tom Cooper, a superintendent at the Buellton Union School District in Buellton, Calif., has stepped down after allegedly making sexist and insensitive remarks, the Santa Maria Times reports.
Lisa Restivo, a first-grade teacher at Oak Valley School, accused Cooper of sexually harassing a pregnant teacher, talking about "putting birth control in the staff lounge and water," expressing "negative reactions towards pregnant employees," demonstrating "sexism towards women" and having "inappropriate relationships," the paper notes.
According to the Santa Maria Times, Cooper released a statement on July 13 that expressed the following:
“Because of my sensitivity to the students that I serve I may have made, what some people perceive as, insensitive remarks to a few pregnant teachers who announced that they would be missing a large amount of the school year. This was several years back and brought forward now by a teacher that I reprimanded and a union that I criticized. That being said, I now realize that my remarks may have offended a couple of teachers and for that I am truly sorry.”
KCOY-TV reports the school board hired an investigator after the allegations came to light.
Before Cooper's resignation, Buellton Education Association (BEA) president Brian Wallace issued a statement that criticized the district's initial disciplinary action, the Santa Ynez Valley News reports. Details about Cooper's consequences were not initially disclosed.
“We believe the district's response to be insufficient and are assessing the next steps to take which include filing with the California Department of Education, among other agencies. It is important to note, while the district found evidence of wrong doing, the union has no idea what consequences and corrective actions were taken. We encourage you to contact the district for more information. Specific employees involved will not be making specific statements at this time so as to not impede any future investigations or potential litigation.”
According to the Santa Maria Times, Board of Trustees President Joyce Azevedo maintains Cooper's resignation has nothing to do with the board's disciplinary action.
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