ST. LOUIS — A group of mostly African-American Normandy school teachers are seeking damages for alleged age and racial discrimination.
According to a petition filed in the federal court in St. Louis, 22 teachers above the age of 40 claim that after the Normandy School District (NSD) dissolved at the end of the 2013-14 school year, some but not all, applied for re-employment with the Normandy School Collaborative (NSC), but were not re-hired.
In their class-action complaint, the plaintiffs say they never received responses to their applications, never received explanation for why they were not re-hired and later discovered that less-qualified white individuals under the age of 40, with little or no experience, were hired in their place for substantially less pay.
Regarding their racial discrimination claims, the plaintiffs say the NSC is comprised of many "at-risk" students who require special attention, but that the white teachers hired in their place "were ill prepared" to teach these at-risk students.
"Many of the employees hired by NSC were incapable of teaching in an urban school district," the petition states. "As a result, students did not receive instruction and/or received inadequate instruction. None of them received honors-level courses, as none of the new employees were capable of teaching those courses."
Represented by Christopher Bent of St. Louis, the proposed class alleges violations of the Missouri Human Rights Act, breach of contract, violation of the Missouri Teacher Tenure Act and denial of due process.
The plaintiffs claim that the NSC's alleged failure to file a mandamus action forecloses the right to challenge the timeliness of the charge of discrimination.
"Defendant took no action whatsoever to challenge the timeliness of Plaintiffs’ complaints while they were pending and prior to the issuance of the right to sue letter, despite being on notice of the complaints," their complaint states.
"Defendant cannot challenge the timeliness of the charge of discrimination as part of its defense of the instant lawsuit, as the time to do so was prior to the issuance of the right to sue letters."
The NSC, represented by Dorothy White-Coleman of St. Louis, had removed the action from St. Louis County Circuit Court.