Wednesday, September 26, 2007
APS Worker Claims Harassment by Boss
By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
The head of accounting for Albuquerque Public Schools has slapped the district with a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by her boss and retaliation.
Lou Anne Boothe, a two-year-employee with APS, filed the lawsuit Friday, two days after she was placed on paid leave from her $77,800-a-year job.
The civil rights lawsuit seeks to prevent termination and requests damages for sexual misconduct alleged against former chief business officer Bill Moffatt.
Named as defendants are the APS board of education, Moffatt, APS deputy superintendent Tom Savage and Tami Coleman, APS director of capital fiscal programs.
The district had not been notified of the lawsuit or served as of Tuesday.
Moffatt, reached at his home Tuesday, declined comment.
At a school board meeting Friday, Superintendent Elizabeth Everitt announced that an outside auditor was looking into allegations that money was misspent from a fund in fiscal year 2005-2006. The fund contained property tax revenue approved by voters for school maintenance.
APS officials confirmed Tuesday that the allegations were made by Boothe, but they said initial reports indicated there was no wrongdoing.
Officials said Everitt's announcement about the audit was not related to Boothe's leave.
A letter from APS provided by Boothe's attorney said the leave was "pending an investigation of concerns based on your behavior and the manner in which you have conducted yourself which has caused a loss of trust and confidence in your ability to perform your duties."
It added that the district had "concerns regarding your ability to work productively with co-workers."
After Boothe complained of the alleged harassment to Savage in June, Moffatt announced he would resign Sept. 1.
But he was put on paid leave Aug. 1 pending an investigation of employee misconduct, and he retired on Aug. 31, district spokesman Rigo Chavez said.
Chavez confirmed that the district's Equal Employment Opportunity Office had a complaint against Moffatt on file but said he could not elaborate.
The lawsuit describes Boothe as a grandmother of two who has been married nearly 30 years, claiming Moffatt described her as "the hottest grandmother I have ever met."
"He used his position of superiority over her to assault and batter her," it said.
Roughly half of the 18-page lawsuit details various allegations of misconduct by Moffatt since he became Boothe's boss in 2006, including patting her leg under the table at meetings and repeatedly asking her out to lunch and dinner.
Boothe alleges that Savage told her not to contact police about the alleged harassment. She claims that after she complained to Savage, officials retaliated by stripping her of responsibilities.
Two APS board members said they were suspicious of the allegations in the lawsuit, saying Boothe e-mailed the school board about her allegations of misspending a day after she was placed on leave.
"I'm not shy when it comes to calling the administration on mistakes," said board member Marty Esquivel. "This one raises a lot of questions about the integrity of the claims."
The Albuquerque accounting firm of Kardas, Abeyta and Weiner is conducting the audit, Chavez said.