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Former Madrone Trail head alleges board retaliation

John Bissey, who served the charter school from 2019-2022, believes he was let go by the board because he filed an ethics complaint

The former executive director of the Madrone Trail Public Charter School has accused the school board of retaliation.

John Bissey filed a complaint against the school’s board of directors with the state Bureau of Labor and Industries alleging it fired him early this year for lodging an ethics complaint.

A BOLI spokesperson confirmed a civil rights complaint had been filed, and the agency provided it to the Mail Tribune.

“I believe respondent retaliated against me and terminated my employment based on my protected whistleblowing activities,” Bissey wrote in the two-page document.

He was referring to an earlier complaint he submitted to the Oregon Ethics Commission, which found several current and former board members did not follow public meeting laws when it went into executive session to discuss him.

Bissey, who served as executive director from July 1, 2019, until the end of the 2021-22 school year, filed the ethics complaint in January, when he was still Madrone Trail’s leader. Now, he awaits a BOLI investigation, which will determine whether officials agree with his claim of retaliation.

Erik Johnsen, president of the Madrone Trail school board, confirmed he had received Bissey’s complaint, adding that Madrone Trail’s legal counsel filed a response to the agency.

“Our filing with BOLI denied (Bissey’s) complaint,” Johnsen said. “Our lawyer provided responses and evidence to support that assertion.”

BOLI Deputy Commissioner Duke Shepard confirmed Bissey’s complaint currently is being investigated by his agency. Per state law, ongoing case records — with the exception of the complaint itself — are not public, including the board’s recent response, according to Shepard.

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or kopsahl@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.