Former IPS employees sue district, school board

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Two former Indianapolis Public Schools employees are suing the district and IPS board for wrongful termination.

IPS fired William Jensen and Deborah Leser in June.

Leser and Jensen are two of several employees accused of not reporting a sex scandal involving a student and a counselor quickly enough.

In separate complaints, the two former employees are asking a federal judge to reverse their terminations, award them damages to compensate for the harm done to their careers and reputations and finally give them a jury trial if necessary.

Jensen and Leser are among the IPS employees who allegedly waited several days to report the possible relationship of IPS counselor Shana Taylor and a 17-year-old student. Taylor is scheduled to go to trial on child seduction charges in September.

Prosecutors also charged two people for failure to report in the case. Shalon Dabney and Tina Hester  avoided further prosecution on misdemeanor charges by entering into a pre-trial diversion program earlier this spring.

Police investigated Jensen and Leser, but no criminal charges were ever filed against them. Still, the board decided to fire them for their alleged roles.

In court documents, Jensen and Leser argue they did follow IPS policy in reporting what they knew about the alleged relationship. The court documents argue IPS violated their right to due process in several ways.

One claim is that IPS did not specifically notify Jensen or Leser of the allegations against them.

According to court documents, “IPS provided only a vague summary to support its contention that Ms. Leser [and Mr. Jensen] violated the named Policy and Administrative Guideline,” Attorneys argue because “no reason or reasons for contract cancellation were provided,” Leser and Jensen were “not able to present evidence to refute the reason(s).”

Court documents also say the board was unprofessional, disrespectful and didn’t pay attention during Jensen and Leser’s hearings.

IPS released the following statement about the lawsuits:

“IPS has reviewed the claims. We believe they are without merit, and we will vigorously defend against them. No further comment will be offered on pending litigation.”

Leser’s filing is below.

Jensen’s filing is below.

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