Former charter school administrator Michael R. Hazelton, who I wrote an investigative profile about earlier last year, is suing one of his previous school employers. My story documented how Hazelton led three Southern California schools in four years, each of which has been crippled or closed by the time he walked away, suffering deficits or battling accusations that Hazelton improperly enriched himself or corporations he founded.

In his complaint, Hazelton alleges that Cortez Hill Academy and its director Jacqueline Hicks broke the contract he had with the school, failed to pay him his full wages, inflicted emotional distress and invaded his privacy by allegedly sharing a letter with a parent at another of his schools, Theory Into Practice Academy, in which she “maliciously, unlawfully and for an improper purpose claimed that she, herself, would be filing charges of embezzlement against Plaintiff with the San Diego Police Department.” Hazelton alleges that the letter was part of his personnel file and was therefore private.

Hicks was a school principal quoted in my story who said she and her school had been “ripped off” by Hazelton. Auditors of Cortez Hill wrote in 2007 that Hazelton had raised his own salary without board approval, was signing checks alone despite a school policy that required him to get a second signature, and noted that deficits at the school jumped from $16,559 to $188,187 in the single year that Hazelton worked there.

Hazelton alleges that as a result of Hicks sending the letter to the unnamed Theory Into Practice Academy parent, he “has suffered and will continue to suffer the impairment of and damage to his good name and work reputation, substantial loss of earnings and benefits, impairment of his ability to obtain subsequent employment due to the untrue implication that he had committed any illegal acts, as well as humiliation, discomfort, embarrassment and mental and emotional distress.”

The suit, filed in late February, seeks more than $25,000 in damages.


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