Sarasota school employee files retaliation complaint against superiors

Sarasota woman claims she's faced retaliation for claiming sexual harassment

SARASOTA, Fla. -- In a time where people are being applauded for sharing their sexual harassment stories, one woman says she's facing a severe backlash.

A Sarasota school employee who made a case against the superintendent says she’s now paying the price for her bravery.

Dr. Lyna Jimenez-Ruiz has worked 26 years in education, the last 15 in Sarasota and most recently at Booker High School as an assistant principal.

But the 48-year-old educator says this may be the end of her career.

"I've committed career suicide," Ruiz said, by filing a retaliation equity complaint with the school district, against her immediate boss Principal Rachel Shelley and Superintendent Todd Bowden.

Ruiz says she's being retaliated against because of a harassment complaint she filed a year ago.

The complaint was against Bowden and filed while he was a candidate for his current job. The district investigated determined Ruiz's allegation was unfounded and dismissed her case.

Ruiz was reassigned to Booker, and that's when she says the retaliation continued.

She cited "some hostility, some disrespect by my administrator Rachel Shelly.".

Ruiz says she confided in Shelley she was diagnosed with PTSD because of the sexual harassment case.

"Instead of being sympathetic, she started taking away responsibilities duties from me," Ruiz alleges.

 She says she was asked if she'd consider looking for another job and taken off an email list before taking leave for stress.

"I submitted a retaliation complaint. Two days later I received a letter saying I'm not meeting criteria as (assistant principal) in seven areas.”

Ruiz believes Shelley is acting under Bowden's direction. 

"This injustice has to stop," she says. "I'm not the first this happened to, not just for sexual harassment but other retaliations of sorts."

We contacted the superintendent's office to ask for comment but were told they would not make one since this is an open investigation. 

Ruiz stands behind her complaint.

"It's important for young ladies to see how powerful women can be by coming forward to fight their fears and tell the truth."

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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