The chief of the Baldwin Park Unified School District Police Department is suing the district, alleging she has not been allowed to return to work after being put on administrative leave earlier this year amid blogger and news reports that she had a criminal history.
Jill M. Poe, who has served as police chief for the district’s department since 2014, filed her complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging sexual orientation discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation. Poe, who is gay, is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Members of the Board of Education and BUISD Superintendent Froilan Mendoza also are named as defendants in the suit filed Thursday. A message left with Mendoza’s office for comment was not immediately returned.
Poe, 51, began as a patrol officer with the district in 2006 and was named chief in 2014, according to her court papers.
In July, a local blogger was given a citation by a BPUSD officer for running a stop sign, the suit states. The blogger wrote Mendoza asking that the citation be dismissed or he would disclose Poe’s alleged criminal history while a member of the LAPD, according to the suit.
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, citing the blogger’s report and Los Angeles Superior Court records, reported in September that Poe, while with the LAPD, was sentenced to three years probation after pleading no contest in 2000 to felony auto insurance fraud and misdemeanor filing of a false police report.
After finding out about the blogger’s alleged threat, Poe complained to a deputy superintendent, according to the lawsuit, which says the blogger then made the same demand via email for dismissal of the citation by Poe.
The blogger published the negative information about Poe on Sept. 4 and the plaintiff was suspended the next day, the suit says.
“She was told she had done nothing wrong … yet (she was) being penalized by being placed on administrative leave,” the complaint states.
In October, a television news report “painted a horrible picture of Poe alleging that Poe should never had been hired …,” the suit says.
The BPUSD had promised Poe it would correct the portrayal of her in the news segment, “but did not do anything to respond to these news reports, effectively admitting and acknowledging the statements…,” the suit states.
“Poe was repeatedly told by BPUSD officials that she was not being suspended or placed on leave as a result of any fault of her own and that there was nothing to investigate about her conduct,” the suit states.
Poe did not reveal she was gay until after she became chief and believes her sexual orientation has caused her to receive disparate treatment, according to the suit, which cites a heterosexual employee who was accused of sexual molestation of children, yet continues working for the BPUSD.
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