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Suit: Ex-superintendent created toxic work environment


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A lawsuit claims the Alsea School District enabled its former superintendent to create a hostile work environment with gender discrimination, sexual harassment and general misogyny.

The lawsuit alleges Marc Thielman, who resigned as superintendent in February after several complaints were filed against him, “engaged in sexual harassment on a regular, sustained and ongoing basis” throughout Shanon Rice’s employment with the rural, western Oregon school district, the Albany Democrat-Herald reported.

Rice, the principal of Alsea Elementary School, filed the lawsuit against the school district in Benton County Circuit Court last week. The lawsuit does not name Thielman as a defendant. District officials could not be reached for comment.

Thielman is running for Oregon governor as a Republican.

He would talk about his genitalia and sexual life on “an almost daily basis,” the legal complaint alleges, and regularly used sexual innuendos and made sexually suggestive comments about women’s bodies. It was so pervasive that Rice would take a “mental vacation” whenever Thielman steered a conversation toward sex, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleges district officials enabled him by consistently ignoring concerns and complaints and retaliated against Rice by not renewing her contract, effectively terminating her as of June 30, 2022.

Rice is seeking more than $3.7 million from the district for the alleged hostile work environment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and whistleblower retaliation.

Thielman made waves in January when he announced that at his direction, the school board had passed a resolution to return “local control” to the board and make indoor masking optional during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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