Second discrimination charge filed against Tukwila schools

The Tukwila School District has been hit with a lawsuit filed by nine African American educators. The complaint claims the district endorses a white agenda and represses equality in education and teaching in Tukwila schools.

The district’s student enrollment is one of the most racially diverse in the nation.

Some of the teachers claimed they have been retaliated against for going public in the past with complaints, including Sandra Goins, a teacher with the district since 2003.

The lawsuit states that no one of color sits on the school board or is a principal in the district.

It claims that issues persist due to "unlawful racism and pervasive discrimination" against the African American workforce at the district.

Dr. Mellody Matthes, Tukwila school district's interim superintendent, said she just received the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 12. She had no immediate official response.

The previous superintendent, Ethelda Burke, resigned June 26 after facing similar racial discrimination charges. Burke is African-American.

In an official response to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year, Tukwila school board members said they had found no evidence to support charges that Burke had discriminated against African American staff members who had brought the charges.

Although exonerated by the board, Burke resigned.

“It would be impossible for me to return and be effective as superintendent,” Burke wrote to the board. “I want the staff and students of the Tukwila School District to remain focused on education.

“My returning, after what has occurred, would be a distraction from that focus.”

Burke had been accusing of referring to several staff members as her “slaves.”

Athletic and activities director J.D. Hill charged that Burke called him “J. Darky” and told him he was hiring too many people of color.

Burke replied that as an African-American woman born in a New Orleans charity hospital, she learned at an early age the magnitude and harm of racially offensive statements.

Board members have not selected a permanent superintendent since Burke left officially on July 1.

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