SDE settles whistleblower lawsuit for $150,000

The State Department of Education settled a lawsuit with former staffer Kelly Brady for $150,000 this April, the department said in response to a records request.

The SDE paid $78,825, and the state’s Risk Management Department covered the balance.

Brady filed a lawsuit against the SDE in February 2020, alleging she was fired over whistleblower activities, after she complied with a human resources investigation that was unfavorable to state superintendent Sherri Ybarra.

Kelly Brady

During the investigation, Brady said she felt that the SDE work environment was “hostile under the direction and supervision of Superintendent Ybarra, and that people were fearful of losing their jobs,” the complaint says.

Brady alleges she was ostracized by Ybarra and her deputies, placed on administrative leave and later fired after participating in the investigation. Her lawyers say that she was an “exemplary employee,” who received outstanding performance evaluations and personal thanks from Ybarra, up until the investigation.

In court documents, the SDE denied Brady’s allegations. Ybarra did not ignore or attempt to isolate Brady after the investigation, her lawyers wrote, and she fired Brady only after others complained that Brady had violated department policies and made disparaging comments about co-workers.

“Superintendent Ybarra ordered the termination of Ms. Brady when violations of policy were substantiated in an investigation,” SDE lawyers wrote.

Court records show that numerous SDE employees gave depositions in the case before the parties agreed to settle this spring.

“The department continues to believe the allegations were without merit, but determined it was in the state’s best interest to resolve the litigation,” SDE spokeswoman Kris Rodine wrote in an email to EdNews.

Brady did not immediately respond to an interview request made through her lawyers.

Read Brady’s full complaint here:

And the SDE’s response, here:

 

Sami Edge

About Sami Edge

Reporter Sami Edge, a University of Oregon graduate, joined Idaho Education News in 2019. She is a 2019 Education Writers Association fellow reporting on Latino student outcomes in Idaho. She also is a 2019 American Press Institute fellow. She can be reached at [email protected].

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