Principal of school fired after complaints of his speaking Spanish to students too often. $3.6M. Tulare County.


Complaints about principal in largely Hispanic school district seem to revolve around "he speaks Spanish too much and this is America."  School Board later fires him.

The Case

  • Case Name: Ernie Flores v. Palo Verde Union School District
  • Court and Case Number: Tulare County Superior Court / 277399
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, September 29, 2021
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, February 11, 2019
  • Type of Case: Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Bret Hillman
  • Plaintiffs:
    Ernie Flores, 57
  • Defendants:
    Palo Verde Union School District
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,625,752
  • Economic Damages:

    Past economic loss: $324,686

    Future economic loss: $1,488,190

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $324,686

    Future: $1,488,190

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Brock & Gonzales, LLP by D. Aaron Brock, Lee A. Cirsch and Lindsay L. Bowden, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Weakley and Arendt by James Arendt and Leslie Dillahunty, Fresno.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    While principal at Palo Verde Union Elementary School, plaintiff made a complaint to the school board that it was discriminating against a job applicant on the basis of the applicant’s race.

    Plaintiff was later terminated in February 2018, on the basis of anonymous complaints that he spoke Spanish to students and played Latin music throughout the school during breaks. Specifically, one complaint read, “Also, someone please remind him we are in America and that if he’s going to play music that we would like it to be in English and not in Spanish,” and another stated, “Morning announcements by Flores continue with ‘mijo/mija’ and it needs to Stop already.”

    Notably, the students within the Palo Verde Union School District are predominantly Hispanic, and many learned Spanish as their first language.

    During plaintiff's tenure as principal, student enrollment increased, and the school was financially sound. No one on the school board previously expressed any problem with his job performance.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contends that he was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for protesting unlawful racial/national origin-based discrimination, and other unlawful business practices.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant contends that plaintiff was terminated for legitimate business reasons and there was no retaliation or discrimination.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $324,686
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $1,488,190

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $250,000