PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A $500,000 lawsuit filed in federal court on Friday alleges that Portland Public Schools defamed a high school athletic director.
Grant High School athletic director Brian Samore filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
According to the lawsuit, in late August 2016, Samore was disciplined contrary to the process required by the collective bargaining agreement. The incident reportedly stemmed from an “inappropriate remark” that he made “in jest” during a conversation with a coach. The coach and Samore have a “friendly relationship” that includes “making joking comments.”
When Samore objected to alleged violations of his due process rights he was “subjected to ongoing retaliation,” according to the lawsuit.
In mid-January, PPS informed Samore that he was being placed on paid leave.
The letter said the district needed to investigate “allegations of inappropriate uses of the Grant High School ‘P’ card and the Athletic Department’s travel procedures for student/athlete road trips.”
The lawsuit states PPS failed to identify in the letter which ‘P,’ card or purchase card, or travel policies Samore allegedly had violated.
The day the letter was delivered to Samore, PPS set up an e-mail automatic reply that read:
I am no longer working for Portland Public Schools.
The email created a false impression that Samore had been abruptly terminated, according to the lawsuit.
An email was sent out the Grant High School community on Jan. 20, 2016 informing them that Samore was placed on leave, but returned to his position three weeks later.
“The dissemination and impact of [the email] was predictably rapid,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit states that the district knew that when it sent out its notice to parents “severely negative inferences” would be drawn.
On March 14, 2017, the school board met and voted, 4-1, not to renew Samore’s contact.
Officials said that Samore is a licensed PE teacher, who like all new teacher hires on probation, is subject to renewal after each of the first three years of his contract.
KOIN 6 News has reached out to the Director of Media Relations for PPS who said the district had not been served the lawsuit and could not comment.