Friday Sep 07 2018
Roseville teacher receives $80,000 as part of his separation agreementBy: Brody Fernandez Of Gold Country Media
Douglas Mason, 57 of Auburn will receive an $80,000 lump sum payment as part of his separation agreement with the Roseville Joint Union High School District, as of Aug. 30. The separation agreement will “bring this matter to a close,” according to the district’s Assistant Superintendent Brad Basham. Basham is referring to decades of sexual inappropriate behavior toward young girls.
Mason’s resignation was accepted by the district Sept. 4 and confirmed by Mason “in lieu of termination,” according to Basham. The district agreed to the separation agreement to minimize the impact of a prolonged process on students and to bring this matter to a close.
As reported in the Press Tribune Aug. 24, “Roseville teacher on leave for sexual harassment,” Roseville High School health teacher and former wrestling, track and field coach Douglas Mason has been on unpaid leave since January for sexual harassment allegations toward female students. The allegations go back to 1997.
The Press Tribune acquired the sealed district documents detailing the personnel records and files of Mason. The documents confirm how the Roseville Joint Union High School District knew about the multiple sexually-inappropriate behaviors of Mason toward students as far back as 1997 and ultimately failed to remove him from his position.
On Sept. 7, Basham released a statement to Gold Country Media: “The District had conducted prompt and thorough investigations into allegations of inappropriate behavior and acted within the disciplinary confines, limitations, and due process requirements established by the Legislature.The District has advocated for changes to expedite the process and continues to appear before the Legislature in support of AB 2128 expands the statute of limitations and will allow school administrators to consider testimony older than four years in an employee dismissal hearing related to sexual misconduct. We encourage parents and the community to join in that effort. Currently, AB 2128 is on its way to the Governor to be signed into law. We strive to provide an environment where students feel supported and protected in reporting incidents or situations that make them feel uncomfortable at school. Unprofessional conduct that does not respect appropriate boundaries between students and employees will not be tolerated in our schools. We encourage anyone who feels they have been subjected to sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior to report it to a teacher, counselor, or administrator.”
In chronological order, the district’s personnel files on Mason illustrate his alleged sexual harassment over the years.
The Woodcreek High School administration delivers a “Letter of Warning” to Mason detailing the behaviors and remarks Mason made to three female staff members in 1997. The remarks made staff members feel uncomfortable and they altered their own behavior toward Mason going forward. Since the three females did not decide to file an official complaint, it was swept under the rug with no course of action or discipline toward Mason as the principal merely attached the district’s sexual harassment policy on the letter.
The Woodcreek High principal at the time, whose name was blacked out by the district, said the following in conclusion of this incident, “I’m confident, Doug, that you will successfully modify your behavior and that this will be a non-issue in the future.”
A memorandum letter was sent to Mason with the Roseville Joint Union High School District’s board recommending that Mason be suspended for three days without pay. The district asks Mason to “indicate to his substitute teacher that the reason for his absence is for ‘personal business.’”
Within the notice and statement of charges, Mason was suspended for knowingly wearing shorts with a hole exposing his genitals during a dunk tank activity to support the annual canned food drive. Several students and staff members saw Mason’s genitalia and reported it to school officials, according to the district’s statement of charges.
Mason also suggested to a female co-worker that she wear a bikini so that the canned food drive would receive more cans during the event.
Two months before the prior incident, Mason commented about installing a camera in the nurses’ bathroom. The employee’s testimony indicated Mason wanted to install a camera “so the next time you use the bathroom, I can see.” Mason returned to work after three days.
In April 2002, Mason gave a “lecture” to a female student athlete when he asked her if she was wearing thong underwear, according to the district’s memorandum. The findings concluded that Mason had a graphic and sexually referenced conversation with several students about the health hazards that result from wearing thong underwear, according to the documents.
On May 5 during track practice, Mason was helping a student tape her ankle. Mason commented on the girl’s legs. “Hairy legs turn me on,” Mason told the student. The student responded with, “OK, you’re scaring me.”
Another written letter was sent to Mason on June 24 for inappropriate sexual conversations he had with several female students after another investigation. As a track and field coach for Woodcreek High School, Mason told a female student, “You know we all think that you’re hot.” The investigation’s findings concluded this happened after Mason made the comments in front of another male staff member who was uncomfortable, reported the incident and gave witness testimony.
All the 2002 incidents were documented and Mason was told by the district office that he placed his students in harmful circumstances and placed the district at risk. After “careful consideration,” the principal responded, “I’m confident Doug, that you will successfully modify your behavior and establish appropriate relationships with your athletes. At present, I do not plan to issue a formal letter of reprimand nor take any disciplinary action.”
Another investigation was launched against Mason after several additional allegations were made against him in summer 2010. Based on the investigation, Mason told a young female athlete, “You’re so hot. You’re the reason boys go out for track”. It was also found that Mason assisted female athletes during stretching activities with physical contact, which made the athletes uncomfortable. It was reported and alleged that Mason was “lying on top” of female athletes during stretches, massaged a females athlete’s calf during stretching and openly engaged in conversations with female students and their sex lives. The investigation’s conclusion resulted in Mason being asked to resign from being a track coach. No further actions were taken against Mason as he regretfully admitted that he “did not set good boundaries for himself,” according to the investigative report.
Another investigation was launched on allegations that Mason fully undressed in front of the entire Woodcreek Varsity Wrestling Team during Thanksgiving break in 2012. Mason resigned from being the track coach but was then hired as the wrestling coach. Investigation findings confirmed that Mason exposed his privates in front of students.
The second allegation accused Mason of telling a staff member that the reason a female student’s breasts were getting bigger was “because that’s what happens when girls start having sex,” according to witness testimony via the report.
The findings concluded there was not sufficient evidence to substantiate these claims.
As of Aug. 30, Mason has now resigned and he can no longer seek employment with the school district. Mason will retain his full pension and it is unknown whether he has filed for retirement with the state’s teachers retirement system, according to Basham.