Mercedes ISD settles gender discrimination lawsuit with former super

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Carolyn Mendiola

A discrimination lawsuit filed by former superintendent Carolyn Mendiola against her former employer, Mercedes ISD, has been settled.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Sep. 13, 2023, alleged that Mercedes ISD violated the Equal Pay Act by underpaying her because she is a woman.

Mendiola’s attorney, John Shergold, filed the lawsuit in McAllen federal court over a year after she was arrested for allegedly interfering in a Mercedes police investigation involving Mercedes High School teacher Frank Fuentes on a charge of improper relationship between an educator and a student.

Her case was dismissed on Oct. 19, 2023.

“The Parties have notified the Court that all matters in dispute and controversy between them have been fully and finally compromised and settled,” a March 18 filing stated. “They have further announced their intention to request dismissal of this action”

Mendiola was hired by the district in July 2019 as superintendent. She was constructively discharged on May 18, 2022.

“(Mendiola), learned for the first time, from a report received from a Texas Association of School Board’s (TASB) report on October 14, 2021, that Plaintiff’s compensation was $25,000.00 dollars less than other school districts within Region One,” the original complaint read.

The complaint went on to allege that Mendiola was treated differently because of her gender, using other male superintendents with the district as examples of such discrepancies.

“Former Superintendent Daniel Trevino received approximately $50,000.00 dollars more in wages that included travel expenses and a car allowance,” the complaint stated. “Plaintiff learned that Trevino’s wages were substantially higher and (that he) was receiving travel expenses to include car allowances. Also, Plaintiff learned that Richard Rivera, Plaintiff’s replacement as superintendent received a $1,000.00 dollar car allowance per month that Plaintiff did not receive.”

The details of the settlement were not immediately available. The settlement was signed by U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton.