Mountain View College VP of Instruction Files Federal Suit, Alleges Retaliation

Last week, while looking for something entirely unrelated on PACER, I stumbled across a federal lawsuit filed by Dr. Matilda Saenz, who, for the last five years, has been the vice president of instruction at Mountain View College. One week ago today I asked Dallas County Community College District reps for comment and have yet to receive one; so, then, after the jump you will find the filings, in which Saenz alleges she was suspended last month by school president Felix Zamora after she and other deans at the school tried to warn Zamora, DCCCD Chancellor Wright Lassiter and other district officials that a proposed across-the-board 2.5 percent budget cut would "impact instruction and the services that had already contributed to student success initiatives at MVC."

How things have changed: When she was brought on board in December 2004, Sanez gave an introductory Q&A to the school newsletter in which she said she's like to extend "a fond thank you to the Mountain View staff, faculty and students who have made me feel very welcome and as if I am already a part of the college community." And here she is last fall standing with Zamora, Lassiter, council member Delia Jasso, state Rep. Roberto Alonzo and other officials at a ribbon-cutting -- one big happy family. Saenz had come to Mountain View after having served as Dean of the Arts and Letters Division at Eastfield College.

Five years later, she's out the door and off the school Web site and in federal court alleging that the school president targeted her for retaliation after she wrote, via e-mail, that "as a team and together with faculty, we need a truly collaborative solution to this economic crisis we now face." Sanez insists her boss didn't take kindly to what appears to be, as excerpted, a harmless suggestion: "This incident began Zamora's efforts to damage and/or harm Plaintiff's leadership and competence and to continually retaliate, harass, and/or otherwise cause harm to Plaintiff in every way he possibly could." Her version of the narrative follows.

Update at 4:45 p.m.: Ann Hatch, District Director of Media Relations for DCCD, sends along a response. It comes from general counsel for the district, Robert Young, and reads as follows:

"The claims brought by Dr. Saenz are subject to a required administrative process before the EEOC. Dr. Saenz complained to the EEOC, which has not yet made a determination. We were surprised to learn that she filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that employment decisions were made on the basis of her sex and in violation of her First Amendment and 14th Amendment due process rights. Filing suit before a determination has been made by the federal agency charged with investigation undermines the integrity of the process. In addition, the lawsuit contradicts what Dr. Saenz reported to the EEOC. She claimed the district discriminated against her on the basis of her race as well.

"As a community college district, DCCCD respects the Constitutional rights and promotes the academic freedom of its employees. Dr. Saenz's sex was never the basis or even a remote consideration for any of the employment decisions made by the district. Dr. Saenz voluntarily resigned when she found out that she would not be returning to the same position at Mountain View College next year. The decision not to give her an additional contract was based on her job performance."


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