A 39-year-old white elementary-school principal in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is suing her school district for $5 million and claiming she was forced into paid leave “because of her Caucasian race” and because a black employee “coveted” her position.
Shannon Blick, who is still listed on the district website as the principal of Lawton Elementary School, filed her 35-page complaint in federal court on Saturday alleging racial discrimination and a conspiracy to favor black administrators, among other charges. The school district, its board, Superintendent Jeanice Swift, and other administrators are also named as defendants.
The Detroit News was the first to report Blick’s lawsuit.
Blick served as principal at Lawton since September 2013; she claims she was forced out in April of this year despite a “spotless and pristine employment record” that included “the complete absence of any warnings, disciplines, suspensions, complaints, write-ups, grievances, charges, or negative employment actions of any type.”
Dicken Elementary School Principal Mike Madison told Blick at a dinner party nine days before her leave was announced, according to the lawsuit, that the district was investigating her over the alleged theft of $25,000 by a janitor at Lawton and that Blick was being held responsible for the crime.
She was told on April 30 to submit a formal letter of resignation by June 30 if she wanted to stop the investigation into her involvement in the alleged theft by the school janitor, according to the complaint.
To be clear, Ann Arbor Police Lt. Aimee Metzer told the Ann Arbor News that “at this time, we do not have a report on file referencing over-billing at Lawton” when asked if there was an investigation into possible fraud by an employee at the school.
The district, her lawsuit claims, “has a history of harboring, and acting on, racial animus towards Caucasians and non-minority individuals.” She alleges officials employed by the department treat “Caucasian and non-minority administrators disparately and less favorably than similarly situated African-American and minority administrators, subjecting Caucasian and non-minority administrators to hostility and harassment in the workplace based on their race.”
The racial makeup of students in the district in the fall 2017 was 51.8 percent white, 14.6 percent Asian, 14 percent black, 10.8 percent multi-ethnic and 8.5 percent Hispanic, according to the Ann Arbor News.
Blick has three children at the school, and has been prohibited by the district from freely associating with their teachers and administrators, according to the lawsuit, which alleges the school district has infringed on her free-speech rights by barring her from attending school-board meetings and speaking to other parents. Blick even says she was kept from attending her fifth-grade child’s graduation.
When reached Tuesday, Blick’s lawyer, William Tishkoff, said his office has been fielding media requests from “around the country” since Saturday and that his client “appreciates the tremendous support and thanks she is receiving since her lawsuit was filed.”
Tishkoff has said that Blick hopes her lawsuit will enable her to remain in her post as principal, to have her full duties restored, and to receive damages for lost wages, as well as emotional and mental distress.