Principal Will Transfer Despite Discrimination Suit

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The transfer of Seattle principal Beverly Raines from Brighton to Lawton elementary schools will go ahead this fall even though Raines tried to stop the move in federal court. In a suit that has been quietly proceeding in U.S. District Court since February, Raines sought a preliminary injunction to stop the transfer, which she claims was the manifestation of age discrimination. Raines is in her early 60s, according to the documents. On June 4th, Judge Thomas Zilly refused to grant the injunction, noting, as did the district in its legal filings, that she "was reassigned to a job with the same status, pay, and responsibility." Raines' attorney Brenda Little says she is hoping to mediate with the district, but that as of now, her client is still under orders to go to Lawton.

Raines is not the only plaintiff in the suit. Nine other current and former Seattle schools employees are suing the district. They claim an overarching pattern of "institutional racism," as well as other forms of discrimination. All of the plaintiffs are African American except for one, who is Filipino.

Their 48-page complaint is a doozy, full of unusual details (Raines is "very attractive, immaculate, well-groomed") and an array of incidents and grievances. One, for instance, concerns Ron Howard, an assistant principal at Aki Kurose Middle School. The complaint faults discrimination for attempted disciplinary action that was taken against Howard after he failed to immediately report an allegation of sexual assault in a school bathroom. According to the complaint, police declined to prosecute the boy involved because it was not clear whether the sex was consensual. The complaint says the district tried to suspend Howard for five days without pay. By phone, Little says she has been fighting the disciplinary action ever since.

Another grievance, that of a former Dunlap elementary acting principal named Sandra Bosley, dates back to the years under former Superintendent Joseph Olchefske. By phone, Little claims regardless that it is new Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, herself African American, who has "shoved out the door" numerous people of color.

The district, which could not immediately be reached for comment, denies all the charges of discrimination in its legal papers.

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