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HIV+ Huntington Beach Teacher Sues School For Discrimination

Matthew Edmundson taught middle school science at Pegasus School in Huntington Beach until his work environment became so hostile that he was forced to quit. Edmondson had taught at Pegasus for a total of nine years. He left for Texas after four years only to return at the school’s request to teach 8th grade science.

At the time of his return, his colleagues and administrators were aware that he was HIV positive. He had no trouble until his medication cocktail was changed in October 2011, causing adverse side effects. Edmundson notified the school head, John Zurn, and the director of the middle school, Joseph Williamson, about the side effects he was experiencing and believes that’s when the school turned cold, and then hostile, towards him.

He began being scheduled for meetings with Williamson and Zurn to discuss his curriculum plans that no other teacher had to do. Despite nine years of positive reviews, his classroom methods also came under scrutiny. Edmundson also felt that he was improperly asked to justify his personal time off even though both administrators already knew his reasons.

At one point, Edmundson tried to record one of the meetings held with Zurn and Williamson. The administrators found out and requested that he sign a “confidential agreement and release” or risk criminal prosecution for recording the conversation without their permission. Edmundson signed the agreement two days after the request and left his employment at Pegasus.

He has filed a lawsuit against Pegasus for discrimination based on a medical condition, sexual orientation (he is gay), harassment, wrongful termination and other related claims.

Source: OCWeekly, “Matthew Edmondson, HIV+ Teacher, Sues “Hostile” Pegasus School for Discrimination,” Matt Coker, June 14, 2012

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