Superintendent denies sex discrimination in Highland principal’s pay

Highland High School Principal Karen Gauen.
Highland High School Principal Karen Gauen. Highland News Leader

Karen Gauen will remain as principal of Highland High School while her litigation against the district is pending, according to a statement by Superintendent Mike Sutton.

While denying the allegations in the lawsuit, which is that Gauen says she is paid substantially less than her male counterparts, Sutton said the district is “committed to ensuring a positive working and learning environment at the high school.”

Gauen’s federal lawsuit against Highland Community Unit School District 5 says the district pays her at least $25,000 a year less than her predecessor for the job. She says she has 17 years more experience than Derek Hacke did as principal, and he did not have her master’s degrees, doctorate in educational administration or national board certification.

The suit also said that in 2013-2014, Highland hired one of Gauen’s assistant principals, and paid him a base salary of $90,000 per year, while it paid Gauen a base salary of $89,000 a year, according to the lawsuit.

“We have neither discriminated against Dr. Gauen when we hired her to be the principal nor have we paid her less because she is a woman,” the statement said.