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Sunday, December 16, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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This educator says she tried to stick up for students with special needs, and that got her fired

Yakima County Superior Court (Donald W. Meyers / Yakima Herald-Republic)
Yakima County Superior Court (Donald W. Meyers / Yakima Herald-Republic)

A former paraeducator is suing the Mabton School District, alleging she was wrongly fired for voicing concerns about policies involving special-needs students.

Veronica Vargas alleges she was fired from her job at Mabton Junior Senior High School for challenging “the district’s long-established policies” regarding special-needs students, according to the lawsuit, which she filed last week in Yakima County Superior Court.

Vargas, who was hired as a paraeducator in 2016, complained to school administrators about those policies several times, the lawsuit says.

Among other complaints, the lawsuit lists limited resources and limited staff as Vargas’ chief concerns. The lawsuit says some of the district’s policies violate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but it doesn’t provide specifics.

Vargas was placed on unpaid leave and subsequently fired following a special meeting of the Mabton School Board in February 2017, the lawsuit says.

The district’s superintendent, Joey Castilleja — who assumed the role this month — said Vargas’ complaints centered on the treatment of one student. He added that he is barred by student privacy laws to discuss the case further. But, he said, the district is working with that student’s parents to resolve any problems.

“Everyone is really on board with trying to solve the issues,” he said.

Vargas retained Abigail Evans, an attorney with Winston & Cashatt Lawyers, a firm with offices in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Evans was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Vargas is seeking damages in an amount to be determined during trial, along with attorney fees.


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