Teri Collins, the former girls’ soccer coach at Long Beach Poly High School, is suing the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), alleging she was stripped of her job for complaining about gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, alleges “retaliation, discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination, demotion based upon discriminatory and retaliatory reasons,” regarding her April 2016 loss of the position, according to the report.
“In a feeble attempt to cover up the real reasons for demoting plaintiff, the district engaged in a hostile and aggressive campaign to find a pretext by which to use to terminate plaintiff from her coaching position, effectively demoting (her),” the suit stated.
Collins seeks unspecified damages and a court order reinstating her to her coaching position, according to the report.
LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.
Collins had been a coach and teacher at Long Beach Poly for the past 17 years, teaching physical education and becoming the most successful girls’ soccer coach in the high school’s history, according to the suit.
With six Moore League championships under her belt, Collins was selected as the Press-Telegram's “Dream Team Coach of the Year” in 2012, the suit stated, while every senior who participated in her soccer program graduated high school and enrolled in college.
Collins’ suit states that, despite her accomplishments, she “had to fight the district's administration and athletic department that consistently prioritized male leadership and boys' sports” over programs for girls.
Collins was outspoken about what she saw as disparate treatment, the suit stated.
The former coach also complained that the physical education department chairman “sexually harassed her, physically threatened her and used demeaning and humiliating language toward her in front of students,” according to the lawsuit.
In response to Collins’ outspokenness, the school principal retaliated by admonishing her based on a parent’s unsubstantiated complaint that a specific player was not receiving equal playing time, the suit stated.
The principal “further retaliated against plaintiff by requiring her to violate the district's education code regarding grading, when he demanded that plaintiff freeze the student-player's grade at an A+ for the remainder of Poly High's fall semester” although the student no longer attended Collins' class, the suit alleged.
During a contentious CIF Southern Section playoff game on February 2, Collins was ejected after disputing a call and kicked a water bottle while leaving the field, “an act she is not proud of,” the suit stated.
Collins received a letter from the principal the next day stating that she was being put on administrative leave from teaching and coaching pending the outcome of an investigation into what happened at the soccer game, the suit stated.
The letter accused Collins of demonstrating “unprofessional, unsportsmanlike” conduct that “did not promote a climate of sound judgment,” leaving a negative impact on the players and the school, the suit stated.
On April 11, the LBUSD notified Collins that she was being permanently relieved from her coaching position, a punishment she believes is disproportionately more severe than what was given in the past to male coaches for more serious misconduct, the suit stated.
Collins still holds her teaching job at the school.
City News Service contributed to this report.