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Former Richmond County teacher sues school system over racial discrimination

Ex-teacher's suit details repeated harrassment

Friday, June 29, 2012 1:40 PM
Last updated Saturday, June 30, 2012 1:40 AM
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A former third-grade teacher is suing the Richmond County Board of Education for racial discrimination and failure to protect her from racial harassment during the 2008-09 school year, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

Ashley Tyson, who is white, said her teaching mentor repeatedly called her “little white girl” and “cracker” while around students and teachers, according to the complaint.

Tyson was in her first year as a third-grade teacher at Tobacco Road Elementary School during the 2008-09 school year when the harassment allegedly took place. She resigned May 27, 2009, according to human resources director Norman Hill.

Tyson received a right-to-sue notice March 28 from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces and investigates discrimination complaints.

In her complaint, Tyson said harassment from her teaching mentor, Deborah Void, who is black, continued through the entire school year.

In one instance, Void told Tyson to “shut up, little white girl,” during an October 2008 faculty meeting, according to the complaint. When Tyson reported the incident to Principal Geoclyn Williams, “Williams merely responded that Ms. Tyson needed to solve her own problems,” according to the complaint.

Tyson also accuses Void of frequently telling her that white women “were not good in bed,” that they were “taking black men” and that white women were “trying to take our jobs.”

Void also made race a factor in Tyson’s job assessment, saying “the little white girl can’t teach no black students” and “little white girl can’t control black students,” the complaint states.

Tyson met with Williams to report the harassment again in January 2009, but no one took investigative
or corrective action in response, according to the complaint.

Tyson first alerted human resources in February 2009 by e-mailing Hill and followed up with a meeting later that month. Hill later told Tyson there was nothing he could do, according to the complaint.

The harassment peaked in May 2009 when Void allegedly slammed Tyson into a wall and called her the devil. Several students saw the incident and began crying, while one approached Void and asked her not to hurt her teacher, the complaint stated.

Tyson filed an incident report with the board of education and the Department of Public Safety and Security about the incident and informed the assistant principal, who said there was nothing she could do.

Steven Wolfe, an attorney with Buckley and Klein LLP, who wrote the complaint on Tyson’s behalf, said Tyson experienced racial harassment and a hostile working environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Wolfe offered to settle the case with the school system for $95,000, mutual confidentiality, mutual nondisparagement provisions and a positive letter of reference.

Documents indicate Tyson will represent herself in the proceedings.

Phone messages left for Tyson and Wolfe were not returned.

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tusmooth1
17
Points
tusmooth1 06/29/12 - 02:17 pm
11
0
Finally

Wrong on so many levels, we cannot have people in our society let alone in our school system who act like this. Sad

db16
95
Points
db16 06/29/12 - 02:27 pm
10
0
Imagine That?

More corruption and failure to follow protocol from the RCBOE? And our community wonders why we have so many problems plaguing the CSRA. White, Black, Green, Orange or Yellow...Color should not be an issue. When you are an educator, you should continue to have the 'Students' as your top priority and main focus. Until we can do this, our systems will continue to fail our students. It won't be long until the State takes over the entire RCBOE System. There should be an investigation of the entire system by the State DOE...but then again, there might not be enough land or shovels to dig all of the holes to cover up those skeletons that will fall out of the closet! Nauseating...

catlady8
14
Points
catlady8 06/29/12 - 02:43 pm
9
0
Me too

I was an experienced teacher who was moved to a city school with a new principal. I had similar incidents (but all from the principal). I kept notes on everyting that happened. Just before the end of school all those notes disappeared from a locked room/desk! I took early retirement and wrote a long letter at my exit interview (suprise no-one showed up to do the exit interview). Later when I went to my representative, we found out the letter had never been read.
That principal finally got her comeupance and ala RCBOE she was demoted, but her salary stays the same and she is still in the system.

Riverman1
84130
Points
Riverman1 06/29/12 - 02:53 pm
9
0
Another payout for the Richmond Cty School System

How much will the county end up paying out THIS time? How much do they spend on legal costs and payouts?

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 06/29/12 - 03:09 pm
11
0
Only the begining

I think as time goes on we will see more of these suits from whites. I think because of our countries past alot of whites just sit back and keep thier mouths shut and don't stir up trouble thinking that these complaints can only come from blacks. Even my mom told me about a woman on her job who was harrassed like that and she said she told the woman that she should say something and file a complaint, but the woman said "who's going to take me serious I am white?" I feel that alot of whites do feel that way, but racsim and harrassment is wrong no matter who is doing it and if someone is doing it to you then you should file a complaint.

scoobynews
3854
Points
scoobynews 06/29/12 - 03:16 pm
14
0
This is nothing new in RC.

This is nothing new in RC. There are many of us who experienced similar things while working there. This is why so many teachers leave the system after one year to go somewhere else or leave the profession all together. I also watched as underqualified individuals were picked for leadership positions based simply on their skin color not their ability to do the job. RCBOE needs a total overhaul!

Frank I
1191
Points
Frank I 06/29/12 - 03:16 pm
16
0
it can't be racism if it's

it can't be racism if it's against a white person can it? Not here in the south?
/sarcasm....

Jeepster2001
268
Points
Jeepster2001 06/29/12 - 03:20 pm
15
0
And Can You Believe That Ms. Void is Still Teaching @ RCBOE
Unpublished

According to the Salary database, she is still teaching @ Tobacco Road Elementary. To have not been taken seriously by her principal is unacceptable. The fact that the incident report was not acted on, is the reason that RCBOE and CCBOE need to get out of the police/security business, and attempt to stick to teaching. If everything is proven, I hope Ms. Tyson becomes a very rich woman. The school administration should all receive demotions.

just float
23
Points
just float 06/29/12 - 03:22 pm
11
0
In my opinion

the principal and the mentor teacher should face disciplinary action or termination. This can't be an isolated incident at this school. I hope there is further investigation.

southernguy08
499
Points
southernguy08 06/29/12 - 03:28 pm
0
1
Selective outrage
Unpublished

Where are Jesse Jackson and Fat Al Sharpton? Oh, that's right, they only get involved if the victim is black, and there are lots of cameras around.

db16
95
Points
db16 06/29/12 - 03:44 pm
12
0
Again...

If this is reported to the Professional Standards Commission...both the Teacher and Administrator should lose their Certificates. This is blatant failure to follow protocol. Let's see how much money Ms. Tyson is offered to keep her happy on this ordeal. $95,000 is a slap in the face. I would recommend her bleed them dry...The RCBOE is truly learning lessons the Hard Way is seems. They are like a Cruise Ship, without a Captain, at sea. Eventually the fun is going to end, the supplies are going to run out, the ship is going to crash and the fun will be over. Then the FINGER POINTING will begin and the LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND DIRECTION WILL BECOME VERY EVIDENT!!! Amazing how much 'SNOW' there is in the SOUTH...Many folks are living in Blizzzzzzzzard Conditions and just don't want to see it!

jetter
11
Points
jetter 06/29/12 - 04:42 pm
4
1
Having been there

This situation is not isolated. Many administrators turn their heads to protect their favorites. This past school year, Ms. Void was not employed by RCSS any more. She 'retired' from GA and taught this past year in SC.

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 06/29/12 - 05:04 pm
7
0
I have a good friend who

I have a good friend who recently moved out of state to another Education system; he was employed and had a recent promotion for the school board; and when he refused to "bend and stoop" for the RCBOE, he found himself terminated. all within weeks of his recently paid for out of town training for his new position, his "substantial" increase in pay and perks...............more money wasted and yet taxpayers are constantly lied to by this corrupt group. I am not talking about everyone in the group, for RC has some fine educators on staff; but the people in charge are so inept and corrupt that nothing is beyond coverup and nobody is beyond firing to save their butts......

CryoCyberTronics
392
Points
CryoCyberTronics 06/29/12 - 05:54 pm
1
6
Fair And Equal School Today

Ulysses Usher Collines Collines Elementary Collins Is still one of th best Elemwntary School in Richmond and CSRA.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 06/29/12 - 06:24 pm
0
11
Wow. I don't doubt it. I
Unpublished

Wow. I don't doubt it. I would say that it's an isolated incident though....since when have white people ever been scared of black people in Augusta, Ga? ...

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 06/29/12 - 06:31 pm
5
0
Ilove, discrimination and

Ilove, discrimination and scared are two different things. If all is true I hope she is awarded what she is due.

Riverman1
84130
Points
Riverman1 06/29/12 - 07:24 pm
6
0
"I would say that it's an

"I would say that it's an isolated incident though....since when have white people ever been scared of black people in Augusta, Ga? ..."

Well, that explains it all. Impossible for the white lady to have been discriminated against.

Seriously, I'm white and I've been scared of white and black people, even mixed racial groups in Augusta, GA...not that either one of these circumstances have anything to do with discrimination.

just float
23
Points
just float 06/29/12 - 07:36 pm
8
0
Wasn't there

another incident at the school where the principal ignored numerous complaints from a parent regarding a teacher? Nothing was done until it hit the paper!

Sweet son
10415
Points
Sweet son 06/29/12 - 07:36 pm
5
2
Best Wishes Ms. Tyson!!

I hope your experience has been better after your tenure with the areas most incompetent school system. They can't even decide what to do with the Superintendant (nothing personal Mr. Roberson) when it is obvious that they need to look very closely at the direction the system is headed. Good luck!! I hope you find a home and enjoy your career!!!!

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 06/29/12 - 07:48 pm
8
1
Richmond County Schools are an embarrassment to our community.
Unpublished

Richmond County Schools have some of the most useless, incompetent, racist individuals in the education business (not all, but many). Teachers are working to leave the system in drones. Who suffers? The students, the community. Who cares? Not many in the school system.

grovetownman
63
Points
grovetownman 06/29/12 - 07:49 pm
3
4
Lawsuit against the RCBOE?
Unpublished

Lawsuit against the RCBOE? Great! I guess that means that next year there will be extra furlough days to pay for that one. Geesh!

AutumnLeaves
7789
Points
AutumnLeaves 06/29/12 - 08:17 pm
5
1
grovetownman

It might be instructive to think about why so many people are leaving Richmond County for Evans, Martinez and Grovetown, grovetownman. Might you, yourself, have moved for the same reasons?

countyman
20129
Points
countyman 06/29/12 - 11:01 pm
1
11
Some of these people really

Some of these people really crack me up.. They expect us to believe Richmond county is the one full of racism... The last time I checked mayor is white, and the white residents in South Augusta/Harrisburg didn't run when certain areas became too black... There's not one single black person on the Columbia County BOE, the RCBOE is pretty diverse...

Unless West Augusta left Richmond County, and joined Columbia County last night... The majority of commercial construction is definitely located there.... Retail, restaurants, etc follow population growth...

The next boom area in the CSRA is Southwest Augusta.. Jimmie Dyess, Belair rd, and Gordon Hwy(btw Jimmie Dyess & Grovetown).... This area is located in Richmond County...

Crackertroy... The number one school in the entire state is an embarrassment? Davidson is located in downtown Augusta, and several non-richmond county tags can be found in the parking lot..

Why is the sky always falling in RC? It's similar to the articles reporting on crime in RC.. People who don't live in the county always somehow know what areas are good or used to be nice....

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/30/12 - 12:00 am
9
0
History repeats itself

It's ironic when a school system refuses to learn.

It wasn't that long ago when a long line of RCBOE execs ate crow in this same federal court for discriminating against a white employee.

And, how much did it cost to fight and lose Ellen Cauthen's lawsuit?

I'll give you a hint. It wasn't cheap.

DMPerryJr
1698
Points
DMPerryJr 06/30/12 - 12:19 am
11
1
Racism

against white people is tacitly endorsed by the media, politicians and some places of worship. It's no wonder that so many people of color now use racial epithets when speaking of/to white folks - they believe that they have a license to do so.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 06/30/12 - 06:03 am
6
1
Ms. Tyson,

Please contact me at craigspinks@aol.com.

Thanks for standing up for respectful treatment for ALL PEOPLE involved with the RCSS.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 06/30/12 - 06:52 am
9
1
Where is shapton on this!
Unpublished

If this was the other way around, the white teacher calling the black
teacher names, Al Sharpton would be here with his signs protesting
and wanting this teacher terminated, but then we know that sharpton
does not care when it is reverse discrimination! This teacher needs to be terminated and if she is not, then this county needs to remove the
board of education. This is unacceptable and what is this teaching the
students in class? You can not tolerate this nonsense and the principal
should be replaced also for not taking action.

mrducks
59
Points
mrducks 06/30/12 - 07:10 am
0
0
NOT an isolated incident
Unpublished

I experienced the same thing (not as severe) from the time I applied to the time I left teaching in RC some seven years later. The "reverse-racism" is ingrained in the system, top to bottom. This case is a no brainer; the former teacher will win. I hope this inspires other teachers to sue this system until something changes or the brakes fall off. I should have sued. Hmmm, maybe I still can.

Riverman1
84130
Points
Riverman1 06/30/12 - 07:41 am
9
0
Racial and Sexual Harassment

I surprised the Richmond County Schools even have enough money to pay the light bill with all the payouts they have to make for sexual and racial discrimination cases. I don't recall Columbia County ever having one such harassment case.

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