Monday, July 19, 2010

African-American teacher's appeal denied

The Eight District Court of Appeals, which covers Cuyahoga County, has denied a teacher's appeal from a lawsuit claiming he was discriminated against because of his race.
The plaintiff teacher, who was an African-American, filed a complaint in the trial court against the defendant board of education alleging that it failed to promote him to the position of assistant principal and hired a less-qualified Caucasian applicant instead.

In that case, the teacher had applied for an assistant principal position. The school board, after interviewing two candidates, chose the Caucasian candidate over the African-American candidate. Believing that the school district lacked a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for taking the action that it took, the teacher filed a lawsuit. However, the trial court decided no genuine issue of material fact existed, and that the school board won as a matter of law. The teacher appealed to the Eight District Court of Appeals.

The appeals court determined that the school board had legitimate reasons for choosing the Caucasian applicant over the African-American teacher. Moreover, the school board's committee reviewed the candidates’ application materials, asked each candidate the same questions from a prepared list of questions, and considered the strengths and concerns related to each candidate. The committee believed that both men were qualified, but the Caucasian applicant was better qualified than the plaintiff because he had more leadership experience relating to building and district-wide initiatives that impacted both students and staff issues. Thus, there was no evidence in the record of a discriminatory animus. Further, having found no evidence of racial discrimination, the plaintiff's alleged claim of emotional distress resulting therefrom also failed.

Consequently, the court of appeals agreed there was no discrimination.