Wrongful Termination?

After rumours circulated around the sudden departure of a former teacher, a recently-filed lawsuit tells the teacher’s side of the story

The+cover+page+of+former+English+teacher+Mr.+Chad+Bishop%27s+complaint+against+the+School%2C+Head+of+School+Mr.+Ron+Kim%2C+and+a+former+student.

The cover page of former English teacher Mr. Chad Bishop’s complaint against the School, Head of School Mr. Ron Kim, and a former student.

Kyle Berlage, Assistant Graphics Editor

The complaint was filed and became public record on December 1, 2020. It is available at bit.ly/BishopComplaint.

This article covers a number of allegations — claims that have not yet been proven — against our community members.

Mr. Chad Bishop, a former English teacher at The Bishop’s School, filed a legal complaint with the Clerk of the Superior Court of California in San Diego County against the School, Head of School Mr. Ron Kim, and a former student. Mr. Bishop’s employment was terminated on September 17, 2019 after an incident over text involving the former student. In his complaint, he alleged wrongful termination by the School and Mr. Kim, breach of contract by the School and Mr. Kim, and defamation by the School, Mr. Kim, and the former student.

According to the complaint filed by Mr. Bishop, which only includes his side of the story, the former student, who graduated last fall and was attending university at the time, texted him on September 8, 2019, and they exchanged some back and forth texts, when Mr. Bishop sent a meme including a Michael Myers character called “Fat Bastard”. Mr. Bishop inaccurately, and from his perspective humourously, identified the photo as himself. The conversation reportedly finished soon after.

According to the complaint and multiple student confirmations, the former student then posted screenshots from this interaction on their private Instagram story. The complaint alleges, “In [the former student’s] postings, [they] deleted multiple portions of the communication, fundamentally altering context and meaning” to imply nudity. The former student denied a request for comment on the article and requested their name not to be mentioned in the article.

As these texts began to circulate around social media, Mr. Bishop was brought into a meeting with Mr. Kim on September 17, 2019 in which, according to the complaint, “Bishop was informed that his position with the school was to be terminated immediately.” The complaint also said, “Bishop had a contract with The School for employment for that school year, 2019-2020. The termination was a direct breach of his contract. There was nothing in his contract regarding any social contact with adult former students. There were no written policies nor training regarding social contact with adult former students.” The School’s Employee/Student Boundaries policy has no official guidelines regarding employee conduct with former students.

The complaint continued that, “Defendants The School and [Mr.] Kim were furnished the original unaltered [texts], so they knew, and know full well, that Bishop and [the student] were not [texting inappropriately],” the complaint detailed. Because of this, the complaint requested a trial by jury, as well as compensation. Mr. Bishop asked for: his old job at the school to be reinstated, lost salary and benefits, removal of the termination letter, as well as content deemed “defamatory”, damages for breach of contract, damages for defamation, damages for wrongful termination, attorney fees and costs, punitive damages, and “any further relief the Court deems just and proper”.

Mr. Kim declined to comment on aspects of the case, saying, “We are committed to the safety and well-being of all students past and present. Out of respect for the privacy of our community, it is not the School’s practice to share specific information about our students, alumni, parents, staff, or faculty.” The complaint assigned a lot of the blame for the incident directly onto Mr. Kim. “The decisions to terminate Bishop; to send the termination letter; and to maintain that termination letter as part of the records maintained by the school were all made by [Mr.] Kim,” the complaint alleged.

The Tower contacted multiple members of the Board of Trustees. President-Elect Dr. Haeyoung Tang and Chairwoman of the Board The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook declined to comment.

At the time that this article was published, no defendants had submitted any official response to the complaint, and according to the Superior Court’s Register of Actions, the first Civil Case Management Conference is scheduled for May 21, 2021 at 10:15 a.m. According to the Superior Court, defendants have thirty days from their date of being notified and being served the lawsuit to submit a response to the court, including weekends and court holidays. According to the Superior Court’s Register of Actions, both the School and Mr. Kim were served notice on December 8, 2020. At the time that this article was published, the former student had not been served.  There may be a long time until this case has any action, but as the case has been published into the public record, more details have come to light from a situation that has been kept in the dark.