Lawsuit Against Former Pasadena Unified Principal For Threatening To Call Immigration

According to litigation filed by Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), The Pasadena Unified School District failed to investigate complaints against Juan Ruelas; the former principal at Madison Elementary School. The claim is that Ruelas used threats of deportation to intimidate a parent and caretaker.

The names of both women behind this case were availed to the principal, Juan Ruelas by district officials, who responded by banning one lady from volunteering at Madison. This was a violation of the right of both women to due process by the district, allowing racial discrimination, as alleged by the lawsuit. According to confirmed reports, the threat came when Eva Del Rio, the babysitter came to drop off a child in her care.

After knocking on a closed campus entrance, the principal threatened to report her to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after allegedly cursing, if she attempted to knock on the door again. The following day a Jane Doe met with Ruelas claiming that school staff was taking away and disposing of her daughter’s meals during lunch before the girl was done.

In response, the suit claims that the defendant, Ruelas threatened to send ICE to Madison Elementary School if Jane Doe, the plaintiff, registered a complaint with PUSD.

Doe went ahead and filed the complaint, after which the district’s human resources office sent her a letter, indicating her grievances had been forwarded to Ruelas, and that he would address her concerns.

After that, Ruelas and another employee told her that she was “defaming” the principal and risked being sued if she persisted. Pasadena Unified pledged to protect students and parents without relevant documents in December 2016, by passing a policy that prevented U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, from gaining entry to the district’s properties without a warrant.

Doe shared about her treatment and implored the community to take action against Ruelas, during the board meeting where this policy was approved.The lawsuit alleges that the district and the manner in which the board handled these threats, did not cause emotional distress to the mother only, but to her three children as well.

The complaint is now seeking unspecified damages, and an order for PUSD to launch an investigation into threats relating to immigration status.The identities of the complainant will remain undisclosed, and provision of copies of the complaint by the district, will not happen following pending injunctions.