Former Buckman Elementary principal sues PPS after medical leave issues
Robin Morrison, former principal of Buckman Arts Focus Elementary School in inner Southeast Portland, is suing Portland Public Schools, revealing more circumstances that led to her prolonged paid and unpaid absences from the district.
In her complaint, filed Jan. 8 in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Morrison describes years of back-and-forth agreements and various types of leave, arguing that she was ultimately shut out of her employment with PPS in 2017 due to medical conditions.
Morrison is asking the court for $545,833.33 for back wages and emotional distress, as well as attorney's fees and other costs. She says she has been an employee of the district since 1988.
In her complaint, Morrison says she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder in early 2015. She informed the district that her doctor prescribed 12 weeks of rest, but, Morrison alleges that due to pressure from her supervisor she only took five weeks. She says that when she returned to work April 22, 2015, she was placed on paid administrative leave.
According to the complaint, her boss, Senior Director Larry Dashiell, said the leave was imposed because parents and staff had complained about her, but Morrison said she hadn't been informed about their complaints and felt Dashiell was displeased about her medical leave.
Calls to the district for comment were not immediately returned.
The ordeal aggravated her condition, the complaint reads, and she was on leave until December 2015.
In January 2016, Morrison entered into a process to find appropriate work and accommodation within the district, but by March 2016 she says she hadn't been placed and took a leave of absence to go overseas. (A legal notice of intent to sue, filed Sept. 5 with the district by her attorney, David Griggs, says she went to Kuwait.)
Morrison's complaint claims that she asked for an additional year of leave but returned when a severe ear infection cut her overseas work short. She rescinded her request to stay on a leave of absence for the 2017-18 school year. By May 2017, she describes being bounced around in Human Resources so much that she reached out to then-Chief Human Resources Officer Sean Murray, who responded that she would have to go through the external process to apply for a job, the complaint reads.
The district has been looking to hire dozens of administrators in recent months. Morrison believes that she wasn't hired for one of the positions because of her medical conditions and disabilities and says the district owes her more than $9,000 per month if officials do not rehire her.