Juan Rodriguez, an educator in the school district for over 19 years, filed the lawsuit alleging that the San Rafael City Schools Superintendent and Board discriminated against him based on race and national origin discrimination, and because of his vocal advocacy for the racial equity within the San Rafael City Schools. As a result, the District retaliated and defamed him and demoted him in March. As Principal of Venetia Valley K-8 school since 2012, Mr. Rodriguez had consistently advocated for practices intended to minimize or eliminate racial and ethnic bias in the school system. The Venetia Valley School largely serves the Spanish-speaking students of the district. During his tenure as principal, Mr. Rodriguez instituted changes that elevated the school from one of the lowest performing schools in Marin County to a California Gold Ribbon School. Despite both subtle and overt opposition from the District, Mr. Rodriguez introduced programs intended to address issues which he reasonably believes were caused by racial bias. In response, the superintendent and its board have repeatedly retaliated against Mr. Rodriguez for his advocacy on behalf of staff and students of color.
Even though there was overwhelming community support for Mr. Rodriguez, the School Board demoted him stating that there were “compelling reasons.” They have yet to clarify what those compelling reasons are.
Mr. Rodriguez is represented by Leslie Levy of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP, a boutique law firm in Oakland which specializes in representing employees in workplace disputes.