White woman claims racial discrimination against Denver metro school district

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- A white Arvada woman claims she was the subject of racial discrimination before she was forced out of a Denver metro school district.

Kathleen Jones, who said she was a Communications Specialist for Adams City High School in the Adams 14 School District, is now seeking damages.

She just recently filed a federal case claiming her exemplary employment record at the school ended with her being escorted out "in a humiliating fashion" less than a year after her work began.

In a court filing, Jones claims the district essentially demoted her and ultimately replaced her with a Hispanic man.

The case claims the school principal told Jones "the community needed to see" that man in her role.

Jones's allegations date back to late 2014 and early 2015 when she was hired and terminated from her position.

The claims are similar to those made by two Hispanic women who were employed by the district around the same time.

"It was incredibly alarming," Dr. Robyn Mondragon said of the district in an interview with Denver7 Investigates over the summer.  "It was like nothing I had ever seen.  You mentioned the word 'quagmire' and I think that it was really representative of a quagmire.

Mondragon filed a lawsuit against Adams 14 in July.

She said her job was to investigate complaints made against teachers, parents and staff -- from teachers, parents and staff -- at different schools.  Records show the complaints ranged from discriminatory remarks to sexual harassment.

Mondragon was hired by the district at a time the United States Department of Education criticized it for racial discrimination.

She said the district fired her when she started asking tough questions of district leaders, particularly the now-former superintendent.

Mondragon said she's waging a legal battle now to, in part, make a difference for her community -- to try to right what was wrong.

"You want them to feel hope and apparently hope is the commodity," she told Denver7.  "I fought to get where I am, I grew up right down the street on the west side and against odds, and it is a fight, and you don't want the next generation to have to fight as hard ... Here we are generations out from Brown v. Board and here we are still fighting for equitable access and opportunity."

In Jones's case, Jones's attorney has not yet responded to Denver7's request for comment.

Adams 14 will not discuss any pending litigation, but a spokesperson said the district's attorneys are still reviewing the case records and "will vigorously defend the district as we have followed all relevant laws."

Questions about this story? Have a news tip or story idea? Contact Denver7 Investigative Reporter Ryan Luby by email or follow him on Twitter (@RyanSLuby)

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