Dallas school superintendent resigns amid sex-harassment allegations
DALLAS (AP) _ School Superintendent Yvonne Gonzalez ended a difficult eight months on the job, announcing her resignation in the wake of district audits and a sexual-harassment claim by one of her top lieutenants.
In a voice that occasionally quavered with emotion, Ms. Gonzalez said she was resigning because of damage the controversy around her was causing the district’s image and Dallas schoolchilden.
``I am heartbroken thinking that in some way I may have disappointed the citizens of Dallas, though I have done nothing wrong. This day-by-day, blow-by-blow character assassination must stop,″ she said.
Ms. Gonzalez, who took over the top Dallas Independent School District job in January, was sued last week by associate superintendent Matthew Harden Jr. He alleges Ms. Gonzalez sexually harassed him and intentionally ruined the careers of competent employees.
Ms. Gonzalez repeatedly made ``personal overtures″ to Harden and she placed a tracking device on his car because ``she was jealous of other women around him,″ according to the lawsuit.
In her brief news conference, during which she took no questions, Ms. Gonzalez denied the allegations, saying she was ``not guilty of any harassment, sexual or otherwise.″
Ms. Gonzalez, the district’s former deputy superintendent, has said Harden’s lawsuit was an attempt to discredit her because of an ongoing probe into district corruption and mismanagement.
Harden’s division has been the subject of internal and FBI investigations over the last few months involving allegations of overtime abuse, contract fixing and other problems. Several of Harden’s top staffers have been placed on administrative leave or fired. All 13 employees indicted on federal charges of overtime fraud were in Harden’s division.
School board president Kathleen Leos said the panel would consider the resignation at its regularly scheduled meeting later today. She said she was sad over the resignation and expressed relief that “the controversy has not hit the classroom.″
Harden had claimed Ms. Gonzalez sent him suggestive notes such as, “How about a little one-on-one?″ He said he was “grafitifed that a major step has been made toward resolving these matters″ and plans to withdraw his lawsuit.
Harden’s attorney, William Brewer, has the personal notes are only ``a small bit of the mountain of evidence he has accumulated″ against Ms. Gonzalez.
Since her appointment in January, Ms. Gonzalez has been surrounded by controversy.
Black activists blasted Ms. Gonzalez for allegedly targeting departments with heavy concentrations of black workers for reorganization.
Skirmishes broke out on yet another front in August when critics learned that the cost of renovating a complex of offices occupied by Ms. Gonzalez and her staff, estimated at $12,000 in March, had grown to about $60,000.
Two weeks later, Ms. Gonzalez reported that, in fact, the cost was more than $90,000. She said an independent auditor was reviewing the project.
Police also found wires strung from the superintendent’s office through an elevator shaft in what was called an apparent attempt to tap her phone.
Ms. Gonzalez, previously deputy superintendent, was named interim superintendent in August 1996, after Chad Woolery announced his resignation. The board appointed her superintendent from a list of five finalists Jan. 9.