Former Vice Principal Sues Brookings-Harbor School District Officials

By Elizabeth Miller (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Aug. 1, 2019 7:55 p.m.

A former southwest Oregon high school administrator filed a lawsuit against his former employer this week. The complaint alleges Brookings-Harbor school board members and the superintendent acted unlawfully and forced him to resign.

Mark Hebert, former vice principal of Brookings-Harbor High School, said in his complaint that he was not afforded due process when former superintendent Sean Gallagher asked him to resign.


Hebert seeks $750,000 in lost income and other damages, as well as legal fees.

Hebert started his job at Brookings-Harbor High School in July 2018. He says he and former principal Lisa Dion worked on plans to increase attendance and better handle student behavior.

“I thought we made great progress toward these goals,” Hebert said in a statement to OPB.

Brookings-Harbor High School is pictured in an undated photo.

Brookings-Harbor High School is pictured in an undated photo.

Wikipedia Commons

Hebert alleges he was asked to meet with Gallagher on March 14. According to Hebert’s complaint, Gallagher said the school board wanted Hebert out — and told him to resign or his “career would be seriously jeopardized.”

Hebert claims he wasn’t aware of any concerns about his performance.

“I thought I had a great relationship with the superintendent and the board up until March 14th,” Hebert said.


Hebert resigned. He remains unemployed but said he is looking for a new position in the education field, though he’s concerned about the impact his situation with Brookings-Harbor may have on future job prospects.

In the lawsuit, Hebert argues that because the district did not give him an opportunity to respond to allegations against him, they violated his right to due process.

In June, Hebert alerted all defendants, including Gallagher, of his claims, ahead of filing suit.

Soon after, Gallagher announced his resignation from the school district on July 5. He had been with the district for four years.

In a separation agreement between Gallagher and the school district, the school board agreed to keep the events leading up to Gallagher’s resignation confidential.

As part of the agreement, Gallagher may provide consulting services to the district and will receive up to six months of salary and insurance benefits. The district will allow Gallagher to look for a new position during that time.

There were other exits from the Brookings-Harbor School District too, including two board members named as defendants in Hebert’s complaint, which was filed Monday.

The terms of school board members Bruce Raleigh and Susan Gold ended at the end of June. Katherine Johnson, Alan Nidiffer and Jay Trost remain on the school board.

Principal Lisa Dion resigned from her position in the spring, according to an April Facebook post from the school district. She served in that role for five years.

DeAnne Varitek and Vicki Nigh have been hired as new principal and vice principal, respectively.

The district continues to look for an interim superintendent. According to a district timeline, the school system expects to have the role filled by the start of the academic year. The interim hire will likely serve until next summer, when the district hopes to have named a new superintendent.