'I will not follow their directives and I will continue to be who I am'

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham says he's been harassed and bullied by supervisors at his school district.


Bigham is a special education teacher with the Multnomah Education Service District. He was named Oregon Teacher of the Year in 2014.


"I have been told not to say 'I'm gay' in public," Bigham told KATU in an interview last October.


He said he will ask the Multnomah Education Service District School Board to investigate his superintendent, who he says gave him the order. He said he's also calling for the director of human resources to be fired after he accuses the person of trying to "blackmail" him.


Bigham shared the following email from the school district:


1) Our primary focus is on the success of our students. To ensure our student's success, Brett's consistent attendance within his classroom is of the utmost importance.


2) In this 2014/15 school year, Brett has already missed several days and/or several hours of class time due to his attendance at multiple events. He has also exhausted all of his paid leave (except for professional visitation).


3) Brett's attendance at the NEA requested event does not fall into one of the categories for approved unpaid leaves within Article 29 of the CBA. Therefore, MESD has declined Brett's request to attend.


4) As I stated on the phone, MESD is willing to consider granting Brett's request to attend this conference. In exchange for granting this request, MESD requests the following:


a) Brett withdraws his current BOLI/EEOC complaint and releases all current claims; and


b) Brett withdraws his current TSPC complaint and releases all current claims; and


c) MESD and Brett re-establish a professional working relationship.


By doing this, we can place the focus again back onto the students--which we believe Brett also wants.


5) MESD also would like to know the time commitment for his NEA assignment. If the time commitment will be extensive (with further absences from the classroom), MESD would like to have a conversation regarding viable options.


Please let me know your response. Thank you.


"I intend to go to the board Tuesday night to demand our head of HR be terminated for the blackmail. For violating the law. I'm going to ask that my superintendent be put on administrative leave while they investigate her retaliation, intimidation and bullying of me. She's broken the law multiple times," Bigham told KATU.


"I have made the choice that I will not follow their directives and I will continue to be who I am," Bigham said.


The Multnomah Education Service District spokesperson told KATU it is investigating these accusations and taking this matter seriously but the district would not comment on a personnel matter while investigating.

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