SIOUX CITY -- A Sioux City School District teacher facing criminal charges for allegedly sending harassing letters to several school officials has filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
Julie Fischer claims the district officials falsely accused her in retaliation for her outspoken views.
"I am not going to go away quietly," Fischer said in an interview Friday
Fischer, a West Middle School teacher, was placed on paid administrative leave after being charged on Aug. 20 with sending harassing letters to six school officials in Iowa, including superintendent Paul Gausman.
Fischer, a frequent critic of the superintendent and the school district, allegedly wrote in her letter to Gausman, “Your time is coming……You lying SOB.”
Fischer, 51, also allegedly sent letters to assistant superintendent Kimberly Buryanek, West Middle teachers Jennifer Pottorff, Laura Stokes and Seth Sackman and West Middle Principal Katherine Towler. She faces six charges of third-degree harassment.
Fischer said she filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission on Aug. 24.
"I am being retaliated against, and that is the commission you have to go through," she said
Fischer said a commission employee called her on Friday to confirm an investigation would proceed, which she said could take several weeks.
"They get lots of complaints, and they throw some out. But they thought this had merit," she said.
A commission staff member said Friday said details of ongoing cases can not be publicly released.
Fischer is accused of mailing letters on July 11 to the home addresses of the school officials. From the bar codes affixed on the envelopes, U.S. Postal Service inspectors were able to track the stamps purchase to a kiosk at the Jackson Street post office in downtown Sioux City. A camera at the kiosk captured Fischer buying the stamps for the letters.
Fischer acknowledged purchasing the stamps, but denied mailing the letters.
Her court date has been moved to Nov. 25. She is requesting a jury trial.
In addition to the charges in Iowa, the South Dakota State's Attorney Office on Aug. 27 filed stalking charges against Fischer for allegedly sending several harassing letters to a female coworker cited as "C.J.," who lives in South Dakota.
On Friday, Fischer again said she is being framed as retaliation for speaking out against school officials. Fischer spoke out in several 2018 school board meetings against various district decisions and policies.
Mandie Mayo, director of communications for the district, last week said that an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
"The Sioux City Community School District fosters a workplace climate that is rooted in mutual respect among colleagues. Accordingly, employees of the District are held accountable to contribute to creating a positive workplace where students are given an exceptional educational experience," Mayo said in an emailed statement.
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is a neutral, fact-finding law enforcement agency, with the mission of ending discrimination within the state of Iowa. The commission's primary duty is to enforce state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, education and credit by investigating and litigating civil rights complaints.
Fischer said she believes the commission investigation will exonerate her before the criminal cases go to trial.
"They will investigate every person who made a (criminal) complaint against me, and investigate why they made the complaint," she said.
Fischer said she also filed a case with the state commission a year ago, pertaining to the district giving favoritism to male teachers. She said she withdrew that complaint.