2 white teachers sue Ohio school district claiming discrimination

Pair seeking unspecified amount of money in compensatory and punitive damages.
Wire
Mar 27, 2013

Two teachers in Columbus schools’ gifted-student program sued their bosses in federal court yesterday, saying they’ve been discriminated against because they are white.

The lawsuit primarily is aimed at Toia Robinson, who oversees gifted education in Columbus City Schools and is black. It also names the Columbus Board of Education; district workers who investigate employee complaints; and top-level administrators, including Superintendent Gene Harris and Amy Dennis, who directs special-education and gifted programs.

The suit says that Robinson retaliated against teachers Elizabeth Gasior and Juli Knecht for speaking out about their concerns about the gifted program and Robinson’s treatment of employees.

The teachers seek an unspecified amount of money in compensatory and punitive damages.

No one from the district had seen the lawsuit yesterday and therefore could not comment, Columbus schools spokeswoman Jacqueline Bryant said. Robinson did not return a phone call.

Gasior and Knecht declined to comment. Their attorney, Michael G. Moore, said they had tried to resolve the issues outside of court.

“What the administration has attempted to do throughout the course of this is paint this as some sort of personal disagreement. It’s not that at all,” Moore said.

Since taking the job for the 2009-10 school year, Robinson has created “a hostile, abusive and intimidating work environment,” the suit says.

Gasior filed a discrimination complaint with the board at the end of last school year. The lawsuit says the employee-relations team did not fully investigate and instead lodged complaints against Gasior, calling her unprofessional. A disciplinary notice was placed in Gasior’s file that described her as “divisive, confrontational and antagonistic.”

The disciplinary notice ordered Gasior to stop rolling her eyes, sighing or frowning, or she could be fired, the lawsuit says.

Witness statements that supported Gasior’s accounts of retaliation were removed from official files, Moore said.

Knecht interviewed for a job as a regional gifted coordinator and was recommended by a job panel but didn’t get it, the suit says, because Robinson chose someone else.

“Robinson had removed her name and replaced it with that of an African-American who had not been included in the rankings of the interview panel,” the suit says.

The employee-relations workers — DeWayne Howard, Dianne McLinn and Regina Brantley — are black, the suit says, and helped Robinson discriminate against the two white employees.

Robinson, under advice from both Dennis, who is white, and Howard, later altered records to indicate that the black employee she hired had been recommended by the interview panel, the suit says.

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By Jennifer Smith Richards - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

ferball14

Look out, here comes the reverend/hypocrite Jesse Jackson and the entire NAACP.....good luck to these teachers and kudos for standing up for what you believe in. Let the fireworks begin, this is going to get ugly

hookedonnews

Good luck. Sounds like the school did some shady things. I hope they are able to prove their case.

Grandpa04

I think Jessie Jackson Jr has enough on his plate, besides he lacks credability at the moment!

mikeylikesit's picture
mikeylikesit

jesse Jackson sr. lacks credibility too but that never stops him..

Grandpa04

Very True.

Betherella

Jesse Jackson is nothing but a racist, but he gets away with it.

Cliff Cannon

Some times " No comment " serves as the best comment. So no comment it is from me on Mr. Jackson. With this caveat; I thought " Ministers " were supposed to humbly try to make the lives of all better through love, kindness & unselfishness

jack langhals

He and Sharpton make their living from these events.Without racist claims they would be penniless !

deertracker

You do realize that these are white people playing the race card???

arnmcrmn

so discrimination cannot happen to a white person? Oh the liberal thinking and how hypocritical.

deertracker

It can and it does. Those like you only have a problem with racism when you are the victim.

arnmcrmn

Victim? Who the heck are you talking about. Racism happens on both sides, that is all I was pointing out after your uneducated statement.

deertracker

Who are you talking about? Please re read the headline.

jack langhals

Finally !

Gone2work

I wish these ladies the best of luck! I think every white person on the face of the earth is tired of hearing that we are racist or that was racist or this happened because I'm black...blah blah blah. I hope those sons of bit*h#s lose their job!

deertracker

That is B.S. and you know it. You have NO clue where they get their pennies!

Windy

I find it very interesting that white people consider this to be a case of racism, while those of other cultures may consider this to be an example of equal-opportunity . . . hmmmmmm . . .

deertracker

Ah yes, the shoe always fits different on the other foot!

onegirlarmy

No comment other than "O boy!"
I'm white but I know where I stand on this.
One thing is for sure,don't think I am in the minority buTT...
Not good for the kids.
"A hostile, abusive and intimidating work environment."
People trying to fight wars that will never end!!!
KNOCK IT OFF!!

Cliff Cannon

@ Onegirlarmy: Well put. Personally, I didn't even read the article, because I think your spot on with " people fighting wars that will never end " and I for one am sick of that dung.( What ever happened to 'common good ' ? )


However, when reading the comments which obviously zero in on a man that cares----in my viewpoint--- about one thing; himself.


That ill tasting bile, that curdles in one's mouth when something extremely distasteful is eaten or mentioned came forward and rather than speak ill of Mr. Jackson I choose to say 'no comment'. Still, I deserve the rebuke of " KNOCK IT OFF !! " for saying even that. So I apologize


However, I do not apologize for wanting 'ministers' to be humble servants of man & God who are to bring love,unselfishness & kindness to life.

onegirlarmy

@ Cliff,wasn't saying for you to "Knock it off"...lol
So no apology needed here.
Just saying "in general" people playing the race card.
Rediculous!!!

Cliff Cannon

@ onegirlarmy: No I think you were correct in saying " knock it oFF " Simply because for far to long our country has been disintegrating over individual rights ( black rights, hispanic rights, white rights, gay rights, kids rights, senior citizen rights, etc) rather than focusing on --what is right.


It is very sickening to me to watch this selfishness take place. I understand that altruism requires you to win sometimes, me other times and our neighbors the next time.So I ask: What's wrong with that ?


Yet, obviously over and over here come the lawyers, because " MY " rights have been violated.And what is normally the first thing hollered : Race


As for Mr. Jackson,he could be blue, purple or green and I would find him despicable. If you haven't read much on him and only know him from his public bleating's, check him out.


You'll find a man who many swear was in the parking lot when Dr. King was shot. Yet, Mr. Jackson says he was right next to Dr. King and held him as he died. Others say Mr. Jackson went so far as to rub Dr. Kings blood on his shirt. Either way the next morning the " Grief stricken " Mr.Jackson was in Chicago doing the " Today show " and even had found time to hire a p.r. firm


Then follow his escapades through the years of extorting money from large corporations. He has 2 sons with a Budweiser distributorship simply because he " pressured " the company on minority hiring. Heck, his mistress--who bore his child out of wedlock-- even draws a check on Budweiser as I understand it. Then see what he did to Coca-Cola and....


Personally, just the mention of that man makes my blood run cold. So I was drawn in by the comments about him, which of course, paints one with the racist just for mentioning him.


Yet, it ain't racism here. Rather,it's a very strong sense of right and wrong. And what of read of Mr.Jackson normally is wrong in my viewpoint. Still,on this " Good Friday " morning. I must remember, as well as live Romans 12. Then realize the real judge is waiting for the " Reverend"

P.S. Mr.Jackson's net worth is an estimated 10 million. Not to shabby,huh ? Makes one wonder how he got it,right ?

onegirlarmy

No need to wonder...the truth is known and shall set us free.
Thats the only card that needs to be played.
Happy Good Friday
Stay "real" and be Blessed.

WASP71

HEY!!! The white guy finally gets to say "The black man holding me down!" The blacks are racists, the whites are racists- we all are when the time comes to bring out the race card! Why don't people just admit that maybe they aren't right for the position or this (insert black, white, green or yellow) person is better than me! God! Stop thinking because you don't get your way it has to be something with skin color....

deertracker

Agreed!

arnmcrmn

I can honestly say I have never heard anyone that I have ever known throw out the "Im white" and it didn't get the raise or didnt get the hire card. They simply just look for another job and don't bring race into play.

onegirlarmy

I agree WASP71 !
Wars like race,religion and drugs will never end.
Has to be some kind of happy medium.
I'm thinking just do your best to love your fellow man.
We all bleed red.
Peace to all.