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African-American principal unfairly targeted in Title 1 inquiry

A district principal has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against school leaders with the Manatee County district. The man, who had been employed at Palmetto Elementary School, had claimed that his employee rights were violated because he was not paid for activities in which he participated after the school day. The man asserts that Caucasian principals were fairly compensated, while African American principals were left without adequate pay for their work.

The man also alleges that he was placed under investigation for stealing Title 1 money, which is designed to provide assistance to low-income schools. He says he legitimately used the money to pay himself for activities performed outside of normal school hours, a practice that was common among the other workers in the region. Title 1 program representatives confirm that their funding is designated only for teachers. Administrators are characterized as salary workers, so overtime generally is not compensated.

The district had abandoned its investigation of all administrators after discovering that it had not made its compensation policies clear. The man in this case was the only person punished in connection with the activities, and he was also one of the few African-Americans involved in the case.

Still, the man argues that he was only following precedent, and he was not reprimanded for taking the money for his extra work. He says that he did not violate any rules because program auditors were aware of his activities and failed to address them during their periodic reports.

The man contends that money was unfairly taken from his paycheck to compensate the Title 1 program because of his race. Caucasian principals were not subjected to the same punishment. Other administrators reportedly took about $10,000, while the man who filed the complaint is accused of taking $30,000.

In this case, the man could recover damages that would allow him to keep the money he rightfully earned. He could also receive money for pain and suffering and emotional distress caused by the stress of the incident.

Source: Bradenton Herald, “Principal Ed Hurley files racial discrimination complaint against Manatee County school district,” Katy Bergen, Dec. 21, 2012.