Lawmakers Press Coast Guard Commandant on Bias Allegations at Academy

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Corps of Cadets holds a sunset regimental review, May 20, 2018.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Nicole Foguth)
The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Corps of Cadets holds a sunset regimental review, May 20, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Nicole Foguth)

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz pledged to protect whistleblowers at a meeting Thursday with Connecticut lawmakers on allegations of race and gender bias at the Coast Guard Academy in New London.

"No one in the Coast Guard should ever face bullying, harassment or retaliation for reporting wrongdoing," Schultz said in a statement after the meeting with Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, and Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney.

The meeting was called to address a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General that found a black female lieutenant commander on the Academy faculty had been retaliated against for charging superiors with race and gender discrimination.

"I think there's increasing, not decreasing, concern about what has been happening at the academy," Murphy told the Associated Press following the meeting.

Schultz said he "welcomed the opportunity" to meet with the lawmakers and pledged that the service “will protect whistleblowers."

The IG report said that "a preponderance of the evidence" showed that the female lieutenant commander received a poor evaluation report after making statements that her superiors had discriminated against her.

The report said the officer would have received higher marks had she not made the complaints, and it recommended that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has authority over the Coast Guard, look into the matter and correct the evaluation.

In addition, the IG report made reference to the separate case of a complaint of bullying filed last January by another Coast Guard Academy faculty member against a department head.

The department head, whose name was redacted, was removed from his post in April "due to a loss of confidence relating to the substantiated bullying allegation," the IG report stated.

Schultz told Military.com last week that the report has his “full attention. I will get very familiar with it. We're going to dive into that."

"We're going to see some actions, what actions we can take, some recommendations. I'm absolutely committed to an environment where all employees feel valued," Schultz said.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com

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