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Lawsuit against Lee County Schools

Posted at 6:43 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-31 18:46:53-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A lawsuit against the Lee County School District alleges that the district's hiring practices are racist.

The lawsuit claims Lee County is not promoting black teachers to administrative positions. The document, obtained by Fox 4, details the experiences of four black teachers who applied for principal and assistant principal positions, saying it took years for some to be granted interviews.

When they were rejected for the job, they were told to become involved in Lee County School Board committees to help them land the next opening. One plaintiff, who holds a PhD, did just that. When he applied to an administrative position again, he said he did not get a response on his application.

Another teacher involved in the lawsuit was awarded the Golden Apple of Distinction in 2009 for her outstanding performance. When she applied for an assistant principal job the following year, she was not granted an interview. She tried again three years later, and was turned down. She later learned an under-qualified white man got the job instead. Benjamin Yormak of Yormak Employment & Disability Law, the attorney representing the four, said the length of experience, length of tenure with the District, level of education completed and awards and accolades were some of the things that made this person less qualified than the plaintiff.

Fox 4 reached out to the Lee County School District, who said they are not able to comment on the pending litigation.

Yormak sent the following statement:

"The racism alleged in this lawsuit is part of a systemic pattern that causes the disenfranchisement of African-Americans within the Lee County School District. We believe the evidence will show that the discrimination starts at the very top and trickles its way down, preventing African-American upward mobility and depriving our children of the best educators and administrators. When Golden Apple nominees and people with PhDs are not getting hired because of the color of their skin, there is a problem. As such, the lawsuit is filed by four African-American plaintiffs individually, and on behalf of all of those African-Americans adversely affected by the illegal discrimination within the District. It is time for "equal" to truly mean equal."