Black educators sue Flagler schools for racial discrimination

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BY ALEXIA MCKAY
DAYTONA TIMES

Two Black educators are suing Flagler County school district for racial employment discrimination.

A veteran teacher and an assistant principal have filed a federal lawsuit in the Middle District of Florida against the Flagler Schools District and its school board. The two alleged that they were unlawfully passed over for promotion numerous times because of their race.

On July 5, Flagler County Branch NAACP President Linda Matthews announced the organization’s support to Jawanda Dove and Travis Lee.

“They have been on paper and off more than qualified for positions they applied for,” said Matthews. “And this school district has a habit of overlooking educational professionals of color in hiring and in promotion.”

Flagler County NAACP filed a lawsuit against the school district about eight years ago for racial discrimination and it was resolved.

“This time we are standing in support of Mrs. Dove and Mr. Lee in a lawsuit that is pending,” Matthews told the Daytona Times.

Applied 18 times

Dove is a 20-year veteran teacher at Indian Trails Middle School. According to the lawsuit, Dove applied for an assistant principal job and other promotional opportunities 18 times throughout her career. But to date, she has not been promoted because of her race.

The lawsuit states that the school district intentionally selects and promotes younger
White colleagues who are less qualified or did not meet the minimum qualifications.

It also states that four White colleagues were promoted to assistant principal positions at elementary schools last year – the same positions Dove has sought.

Whites got the jobs

Travis Lee is an assistant principal at Rymfire Elementary School. Like Dove, Lee had applied for promotions and received none despite his qualifications and 21 years of experience.

Lee states that in July 2018 he interviewed for an assistant principal position at Matanzas High School and a principal position at Buddy Taylor Middle School. White men were hired for both positions.

That following year in June 2019, Lee interviewed for the Flagler Palm Coast High School principal position. A White man who was fired from a superintendent position was chosen instead.

Seeking damages

Both Lee and Dove said in their lawsuit that the interview and selection process of Flagler county schools are “discriminatory, unlawful, subjective and arbitrary.”

The educators had filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, against the School Board.

B-CU, FAMU grads

In a statement released on July 5, the Flagler NAACP says the organization “denounces the Flagler School Board’s unlawful practice of racial discrimination in denying black educators’
promotion because of their Black race and color.’’

“We have always supported our educators of color and our students of color,” said Matthews, “because there’s always been a disproportionate amount of educators as far as student population is concerned. The numbers don’t represent a fair representation of the population.”

Dove is a graduate of Bethune Cookman University (B-CU) and holds a specialist degree in educational leadership and a master’s degree in reading.

Lee is a graduate of Florida A&M University (FAMU) and has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

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