Target: Mayor Steve Van Gorden
Goal: Resign from the position of mayor following sexual harassment complaints
After years of multiple sexual harassment complaints, high school principal Steve Van Gorden has resigned in the midst of an investigation. Further complicating the situation is Van Gorden’s simultaneous role as town mayor, from which he refuses to resign.
Several teachers at Zephyrhills High School filed complaints that Van Gorden sent inappropriate emails, text messages, and Facebook comments for the last three years. Occasionally, Van Gorden even offered career advancement in exchange for sex, and consequently made threats if the women refused.
While his case was under investigation, Van Gorden was placed on paid leave. Although the investigation is still pending, Van Gorden has chosen to resign as principal. In a brief statement he said, “it has been my pleasure serving the District School Board of Pasco County…at this time, I have decided to resign my position as principal of Zephyrhills High School effective immediately.” The school board accepted his resignation unanimously.
Van Gorden, a father of two, shocked students and parents with his resignation. There was no mention of an investigation to the students and parents are furious at what was happening right under their noses. However, Van Gorden’s mayoral position is not currently in danger because there have not been any criminal charges filed against him.
Although Van Gorden, a well-connected former councilman and community activist, is ashamed of his actions, describing his behavior as inappropriate, he does not believe his conduct as a principal should influence his position in politics. He still has a year and a half left in his term as mayor.
These sexual harassment allegations shed light on issues not suitable for people in a position of power. It is impossible for Van Gorden to keep his role as principal and mayor separate, as his behavior in one directly corresponds to the other. As a principal, Van Gorden has abused the trust of his employees, co-works, students and parents. Sign the petition to demand Van Gorden’s resignation as mayor.
Dear Mr. Van Gorden,
Your actions as principal and mayor have been offensive. Both positions require integrity and honesty, both of which you are apparently incapable of. Sexual harassment in the form of texts, emails, and Facebook posts to numerous co-workers is despicable. An investigation has evidence that this harassment has gone on for at least 3 years.
Your resignation as principal is warranted and appreciated, but you need to resign as mayor as well. Your actions as principal demonstrate how incompetent you are to uphold the duties as mayor. Although you believe that your conduct as principal should not influence your position as Mayor, this is unrealistic.
Complaints of sexual harassment effect your reputation whether or not you choose to believe it. You are not the type of person this town deserves to represent them. Please hand in your letter of resignation as mayor.
[Your Name Here]
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