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Former Olathe School District employee sues district over alleged discrimination, retaliation

Olathe Public Schools
Posted at 7:48 PM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 11:25:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former Olathe School District employee is suing the school district claiming she was the target of "severe and pervasive harassment and discrimination on the basis of her gender."

Andrea Paulakovich worked for the district for more than 18 years, including as Director of Learning Services.

The suit claims the harassment and discrimination based on gender began in October 2019.

In addition, Paulakovich "loved her job and intended to spend her entire career with Olathem continuing to contribute to the ongoing success of the Olathe Public Schools," the suit states.

The harassment began, the suit states, on the night of Oct. 23, 2019, when Richard Wilson, the Director of Curriculum and Assessment, texted Paulakovich at 9:23 p.m. about a work matter.

Wilson told Paulakovich he was in bed with his wife when her text arrived and his wife was unhappy, the suit states.

The comment from Wilson about being in bed with his wife upset Paulakovich.

About a month later, Wilson was in Paulakovich's office to look over a document and allegedly put his hand on her upper thigh, the suit states.

She reported her concerns to Assistant Superintendent Brett Yeager, but the suit claims Yeager, now the district's superintendent, downplayed her concerns.

The suit states from approximately Nov. 19 until April 2021, Wilson continued to engage in "severe and pervasive sexual harassment, including calling Paulakovich his work wife."

The suit details other claims of harassment and retaliation from the district.

Wilson resigned from the district in April 2022.

Olathe Public Schools declined to address specifics of the case, but said it conducted an internal investigation and strongly denied the allegations in a statement to KSHB 41:

The Olathe Public Schools is aware of the lawsuit filed by its former employee regarding allegations of discrimination and retaliation. Although the district has not formally received a copy of the complaint, the Olathe Public Schools was made aware of the allegations during the employee’s time with the district and took swift action upon being notified to thoroughly investigate the allegations both internally and externally, above and beyond what is required by law and our board policies. The district will not publicly engage in a detailed accounting and response to each of the allegations, other than to state unequivocally that it denies any allegation that it discriminated or retaliated against this employee. This is not the case.

Olathe Public Schools takes all allegations of staff misconduct very seriously and we have processes and procedures in place to investigate and address them in accordance with our board policies, state and federal laws. Our focus is and always will be to ensure our staff feel safe and supported at work and we remain steadfast in our commitment to the integrity of our organization and the core values of the Olathe Public Schools.
Statement from Olathe Public Schools