Former Omak principal suing district for wrongful termination, violation of rights

Former Omak principal suing district for wrongful termination, violation of rights
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The former principal of Omak Middle School has filed a $2 million lawsuit against the school district, saying she was wrongfully terminated and blacklisted.

Chris Neese Blackman filed the lawsuit in federal court, naming the school district and Superintendent Kenneth Swanson as defendants.

Dr. Blackman says she was hired by the district in April of 2016. The lawsuit says her performance with the district was “clearly satisfactory at the time of her wrongful removal/termination without cause.”

Dr. Blackman says she came forward on October 26, 2017 and told Swanson the district was illegally utilizing its ASB funds. According to the lawsuit, “Dr. Swanson said words to the effect of ‘Oh sh*t. That’s going to be a mess.'”

The lawsuit says there was a meeting the following month between district leaders and that Dr. Swanson told everyone that the district failed to pay certain classified staff overtime wages and that the district could not afford to pay the classified staff overtime.

According to the suit. Dr. Blackman objected and told Dr. Swanson that the district was violating wage law.

She also claims Dr. Swanson and the District said they were keeping ASB auditors away from the buildings and that “Dr. Blackman objected to that scheme.”

On November 30, 2017, the district terminated Blackman. She said around that time she disclosed to them that she was experiencing mental health problems related to her job as principal and that she was under a doctor’s care.

Blackman’s lawsuit says the district used her disability and her role as a whistleblower to retaliate by terminating her without cause. She goes on to say that Dr. Swanson “invaded Dr. Blackman’s privacy” and defamed her by telling staff and the community that she resigned for medical reasons.

She also says he continued to damage her by disclosing false allegations to several newspapers in the region.

Dr. Blackman says she applied for a job at the Pendleton School District; she was not selected for the job and says it’s because of “Omak’s negative portrayal about her employment.”

Her lawsuit claims the school district wrongfully terminated her; retaliated against her; violated her due process by failing to provide a pre-termination notice and chance to appeal; violated her First Amendment Rights; breached her contract; discriminated against her because of a disability; and defamed and blacklisted her.

She’s suing for injuries and damages related to loss of income, emotional distress and mental anguish.

The school district has not yet responded to the lawsuit.