Texas jury says school board members retaliated against employees

Six employees of Donna (Texas) district win lawsuit that accused board members of punishing them with demotions and pay cuts.

A federal jury has found that four members of the Donna (Texas) school board wrongfully demoted six district employees who opposed the board members' election campaign.

The Brownsville Herald reports that the jury also recommended that the board members and the school district pay more than $3.2 million to the demoted employees.

The affected employees sued the board members — Alberto Sandoval, Eloy Infante, Nick Castillo and Elpidio Yanez Jr. — in 2015 following fallout from November 2014 school board elections. The suit contended that the four were responsible for reassigning the employees and having their salaries reduced in retaliation for opposing the board members' candidacies. Those actions, the employees argued, violated their rights to due process and freedom of speech.

One employee, Jose Campos, 67, a 42-year district employee, had been director of risk management for 20 years, but was demoted to a middle school assistant principal in December 2014 and had his annual salary cut by more than $16,900.

U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane will determine the final amounts that the district and each board member will have to pay to each employee.

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