Court dismisses one charge against Delta School District in employee discrimination claim

By Takesha Thomas | May 15, 2019

CAPE GIRARDEAU – A federal court has dismissed part of a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former Delta School District employee against the district and others.

On May 8, U.S. Magistrate Judge Abbie Crites-Leoni granted the Delta School District's motion to dismiss the count of failure to instruct, supervise, control, and discipline filed against it by Carl D. Ritter Jr. in a discrimination suit. 

In September 2017, the ruling states, Ritter filed an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ritter, who was 56 at the relevant time, was employed with the district as a junior high school science teacher, physical education teacher, and coach. In his four-count complaint, he alleges that the district violated the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act as well as a state common law tort claim for failure to train and supervise.

Citing a Missouri Supreme Court case in which the court found that the plaintiff’s “claims of negligence and wrongful discharge are fully encompassed and comprehended by the MHRA," the district contended that Ritter's argument is preempted and superseded by the MHRA. Crites-Leoni agreed, granting dismissal of the charge. 

According to the ruling, Ritter, along with other faculty, was informed by the superintendent of schools in February 2017 that all contracts were being renewed for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year. 

In March 2017, Ritter applied for a principal position within the district but was not chosen. According to the ruling, Ritter "expressed disappointment" that staff was informed of the hiring decision regarding the principal position before he was. The ruling states Ritter was subsequently placed on administrative leave and escorted off campus in the presence of faculty and students. The board president later that month sent Ritter a letter stating that the board "had voted to reconsider its previous offer of employment" adding that it would not be renewing his contract, the ruling states.

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