Whislteblower Awarded Additional $220,000 in Suit Against Calif. Commission on Teacher Credentialing

In addition to winning her whistleblower lawsuit against California Commission on Teacher Credentialing earlier this week, Kathleen Carroll was awarded $220,000 in separate punitive damages as the same jury found that defendants Lee Pope and Mary Armstrong acted with malice or oppression. 

In testimony, Pope and Armstrong denied knowing Carroll contacted the Bureau of State Audits regarding a shockingly huge backlog of teacher misconduct cases. But, it was revealed at trial that Pope and Armstrong contacted the California Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) regarding Carroll months before incidents they claim ultimately led to her termination. The DPA (now reorganized as CalHR) reviews adverse actions against state employees, among other functions.

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing was called “one of the worst-run state agencies” after an audit spurred by Carroll’s whistle-blowing. She brought alarming evidence to the auditor that the Commission was in some cases years behind in reviewing reports of teacher misconduct, including criminal offenses involving children.

Ms. Carroll had no formal discipline before Pope abruptly placed her on leave, then fired her. Immediately after the auditor’s report in April 2011, Assembly Member (now State Senator) Ricardo Lara requested the resignation of the commission’s management team, which includes Armstrong and Pope. Both left the commission later that year.

The defense attempted to smear Carroll’s name. The accusations ranged from sexual harassment, to reckless vacationing, to spending too much time in the bathroom, to being “crazy,” “curt,” and “lazy.” The woman she was accused of sexually harassing testified that there was nothing sexual or inappropriate about Carroll’s behavior. 

Pope claimed to have written “counseling” memos about Carroll’s conduct over a year before he fired her, but testified that he never gave them to her. She was never so much as given a written warning.

The 118-page audit report includes many alarming examples substantiating Carroll’s concerns. For instance, among the sample of thirty cases the auditors reviewed, a teacher was arrested for kidnapping, then months later for raping a child, but his credential was not revoked until over two years later. Copies of the report are available at https://www.auditor.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2010-119.pdf.

The case was tried in Department 22 of the Sacramento Superior Court with the Honorable Judge Russell L. Hom presiding


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