A white principal sues a white superintendent citing racial discrimination based on the superintendent's deferrence to complaints from black parents - in part fueled by his lack of deference to black parents who allegedly preferred a black principal from the start.?!
Apparently nobody was more surprised than Silberman. He told Raviya Ismail of the Herald-Leader yesterday, “I’m completely shocked that Ms. Petrilli is making these kinds of allegations...I think to try to turn that situation into a race issue is totally ridiculous.”
It would be great if some attorneys weighed in on this issue.
The H-L story notes,
Petrilli was placed at the helm of the new school because she had raised test scores at Northern Elementary. She also was praised for raising scores at Booker T. Washington. In 2005, the Academy's academic index was 56.5 and the former Booker T. Washington's was 53.8 out of a total possible score of 140. In 2006, the merged school's index was 66.4.In 2006, 53% of Booker T Washington's 4th graders scored Proficient or Distinguished in reading. In 2007, that number grew to 69%.
According to Petrilli's complaint: (The unedited complaint here, courtesy of the Herald-Leader)
- Petrilli is suing Superintendent Stu Silberman and Elementary Schools Director Carmen Coleman, in their individual capacities, and in their official capacities, along with the Fayette County Board of Education.
- Fayette County Circuit Court is the proper venue because it has subject matter jurisdiction, the acts alleged occured in Fayette County and the damages sought are in excess of $75,000.00.
Facts listed in the complaint include:
*Petrilli, Silberman and Coleman are properly before the court.
*Fayette County merged two of its poorly performing elementary schools into the Booker T. Washington Academy (BTWA) in 2005 and hired Peggy Petrilli, who was principal of the year in 2005, to be the principal to lead the school and increase test scores.
*Peggy Petrilli performed her job in a commendable manner by significantly increasing the school's test scores.
*Despite her efforts and success, Silberman and Coleman created an intolerable work environment for her; thereby constructively discharging her from her position as Principal of BTWA.
* Petrilli reported to Silberman and Coleman that a parent of one of the students at BTWA had engaged in conduct toward her that constituted abuse of a teacher as set forth in KRS 161.190.
* The Council parents described in Petrilli's complaint are all African-American.
* The site-based council and a group of predominantly African-American parents met with Silberman.
* Silberman and Coleman knew that the motivating cause behind the complaints were based on race; Petrilli is Caucasian and the disgruntled individuals had been told by Silberman that they would have input into the hiring of the BTWA principal who they wanted to be African-American.
* Silberman conducted a secret meeting with the BTWA site-based council and a group of parents; knowing they had engaged in conduct that violated KRS 161.190; in violation of KRS 160.345(9) (a), which prohibited Petrilli from being involved.
* Silberman advised Petrilli that she could no longer be the Principal of BTWA and that she either had to resign or retire.
* Silberman's decision was based on race.
* Silberman called Petrilli at home on multiple occasions and demanded that she either retire or resign.
* Silberman again informed Petrilli that she would not be allowed to go back to her position and was instructed to resign or retire or else she would be suspended from her employment and an investigation would be started.
* Silberman's threats and intimidation, which were based on race, created a work environment that was intolerable and was thereby constructively discharged from her position as Principal of BTWA.
VIOLATION OF KRS 344.040 Race Discrimination
VIOLATION OF KRS 344.280 Retaliation
INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
VIOLATIONS OF §§ 1-3 OF THE KENTUCKY CONSTITUTION REGARDING DUE PROCESS VIOLATIONS, EQUAL PROTECTION VIOLATIONS, AND THE EXERCISE OF ABSOLUTE AND ARBITRARY POWER OVER THE PLAINTIFFS LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY
...by coercing and forcing Peggy Petrilli to resign; thereby resulting in conduct whereby the Defendants were able to avoid, disregard, and violate the laws of Kentucky that are designed to protect Peggy Petrilli and her due-process rights.
ABUSE OF PROCESS
...by manufacturing evidence against her after the fact; threatened that if Peggy Petrilli did not voluntarily resign, the Defendants would take steps to terminate her
Petrilli has been caused to suffer and will suffer in the future the following damages:
(a) Past, present, and future mental and physical pain and suffering;
(b) Past, present, and future embarrassment, humiliation, and mortification;
(c) Back-pay, future lost wages and/or front-pay;
(d) A permanent impairment of her ability to earn money;
(e) Actual, consequential, incidental and foreseeable damages;
(f) Attorneys' fees, costs and expenses.
... conduct of the Defendants was malicious, willful, wanton, reckless and grossly negligent that the Plaintiff, Peggy Petrilli, is entitled to an award of punitive damages.
Petrilli asks for a judgment against the Defendants, a trial by jury; that she be awarded damages including attorneys' fees.