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Palm Coast Monday, Jul. 6, 2020 6 months ago

Two black educators sue Flagler Schools for discriminatory hiring practices

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Flagler Schools doesn't comment on active litigation.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Two educators are suing Flagler Schools for racial discrimination after they were not promoted to multiple administrative positions, despite having strong credentials for those positions, they said.

Flagler Schools Community Information Specialist Jason Wheeler wrote in an email to the Palm Coast Observer that the district will file its response in court but does not comment on active litigation.

The Flagler County NAACP announced, in a letter sent by President Linda Matthews on July 5, that it supports the two African American educators, Jawanda Dove and Travis Lee. Both Dove and Lee filed racial employment discrimination lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, against the School Board.

“The Flagler County NAACP urges community support of these honorable public servants dedicated to the education of our children who are merely seeking equitable treatment in their workplace,” Matthews wrote. She said Flagler Schools “arbitrarily and subjectively” awards promotions.

“The Flagler County NAACP encourages the Flagler School Board to turn from their unlawful and discriminatory practice and unburden the Flagler County taxpayers of this avoidable costly litigation,” Matthews wrote.

Lee has 21 years of education experience and is an assistant principal at Rymfire Elementary School. Stating that he had all the “requisite experience and qualifications,” he applied for four promotions recently but received none: assistant principal at Matanzas High School in 2018, principal at Buddy Taylor Middle School in 2018; principal of Flagler Palm Coast High School in 2019; and principal of Belle Terre Elementary School in 2019.

Lee says Flagler Schools “willfully, knowingly and intentionally engaged in disparate treatment by selecting and promoting his white colleagues.” He says in the lawsuit that his lack of promotion cost him $15,000.

Dove is a 20-year educator working at Indian Trails Middle School. She has applied to become an assistant principal or other promotions 18 times in her career, but "she has not been promoted to date due to her race," the lawsuit states.

In 2019, Dove's lawsuit states, “Flagler Schools selected and promoted four Caucasian colleagues to Assistant Principal positions in Elementary Schools. Dove applied for these same positions and was passed over each time even though she had more years of experience and more educational accomplishments.”

Both Lee and Dove filed charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission but were told on May 15, 2020, that the EEOC would not be retaining either of their cases.

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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