UPDATE – Report clears school chief of retaliating against employee

UPDATE – 6:22 p.m. Friday

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 3-week investigation involving charges of sexual harassment and retaliation by Indian River County School District Superintendent Dr. Harry La Cava has cleared him of any wrong-doing.

School Board Attorney Usher “Larry” Brown released a 9-page investigative report Friday, finding Dr. La Cava did not retaliate against former Human Resources Executive Director Kevin Browning for filing a sexual harassment complaint against the school chief.  Brown came to his conclusion based on interviews with Browning, La Cava, the woman Browning alleges was harassed by La Cava, and other witnesses, according to the report.  

 

Browning complained to School Board Chair Karen Disney-Brombach that he had been reassigned to become principal at Pelican Island Elementary starting next school year as retaliation for filing the complaint.

“The sequence of events in a retaliation claim is crucial,” Brown wrote. He explained that, based on his investigation, Browning did not file the sexual harassment complaint until after it was public that he was being reassigned.

Browning learned was being transferred out of the administrative office on May 24. Two days later he filed the sexual harassment complaint, according to Brown. Also, it was not until June 24 that Browning filed a public records request for the alleged notes and text messages sent from La Cava to the woman.

During the course of the investigation, Browning told School Board Attorney Brown that he had confronted La Cava in August or September 2009 about the alleged sexual harassment of the unidentified woman.

Browning said he told La Cava to stop the alleged actions – rubbing the woman’s shoulders, sending her text messages, passing her notes and other inappropriate behavior. In response, La Cava told Browning that he would change his behavior, Browning told Brown.

La Cava denied the conversation when it was brought up during the investigation, and there was no supporting documentation or witnesses to corroborate Browning’s recollection, Brown wrote in his report.

The woman told Brown that there had been some unwelcome behavior described by Browning that did occur in April 2009, but that stopped when she sent La Cava a text message telling him, as the report states, “she just wanted to come to work and do her job, and wanted nothing more from the Superintendent.”

She told Brown that she had no problems since that time with La Cava.

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