Federal lawsuit against Steve Tietjen alleges abuse of power stemming from 2012 including actions that may have caused a teacher to have a second heart attack…
MERCED COUNTY, CA – You know the old saying that if you keep trying the same thing over and over expecting different results, well you might be a bit crazy. That’s pretty much how Merced County seems to run its business, too. Keep appointing bad leaders to positions of power only to have bigger problems down the road.
So when Steven Tietjen, the superintendent Los Banos Unified, was selected as the top educator for Merced County, well we were reminded of a little lawsuit that Tietjen and his comrades would rather you forget.
Mark Duffy, a former teacher filed a Federal lawsuit last year seeking to hold some of Los Banos Unified School District’s top officials accountable for retaliation because Duffy publicly opposed actions taken by our new member of the MCOE governing board, Steve Tietjen. The suit also named Los Banos High School Principal Ryan Hartsoch, Los Banos High Vice Principal Veli Gurgen and Pacheco High School Principal Dan Sutton. Duffy states in his claim that the officials harassed him after he exercised his first amendment rights.
The First Amendment is every American’s right to Religion and Expression. It further states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In the lawsuit, Duffy states that Tietjen has a “narcissistic and image-conscious nature” and reassigned Martin to the bus barn for a “make-work administrative position.” Which is basically a position that keeps the person employed but has no real benefit to the employer.
The suit was brought when Duffy alleges that Tietjen reassigned former Los Banos High School Principle Dan Martin as a personal attack rather than due to job performance. Tietjen had been granted a request to reassign Martin after Tietjen went to the school board in 2012 telling the trustees that he had no confidence in Martin. Duffy alleges Tietjen is notoriously known by faculty and staff as one who engages in personal attacks, hangs faculty members’ jobs over their heads, and encourages employees to report one another.
The suit further alleges that when Duffy made his opposition to the decision public, Tietjen the ordered Sutton, Hartsoch, and Gurgen to scrutinize Duffy’s work performance including “frequent monitoring visits to his (Duffy’s) classroom by one or more of the defendants (and) Duffy was transferred out of his AP English course he had taught for several years to a class where he taught continuation students with academic and behavioral difficulties,” according to the lawsuit filed by Duffy.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the claim also alleges that Tietjen and his cronies rescinded Duffy’s accommodation for a coronary condition and required him to work with “restrictions that placed his health at unnecessary risk,” the lawsuit states and that “stress of the unfair scrutiny and retaliation got to Duffy, who had a second heart attack in September 2013. Sutton delivered Duffy a poor performance review on September 16, 2013. Duffy was even accused of faking his second heart attack.”