A recent lawsuit suggest that racial discrimination is at the heart of why the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District in Missouri denied a Black woman from becoming their director of communications of the predominantly white suburban school district.
Danielle Nixon alleges that former Superintendent Dennis Carpenter, who is also Black, is partially (if not fully responsible) for her not getting the job. According to court documents obtained by KCUR, Carpenter “told the selection committee that he would never hire an African American female for that key role.”
Instead, Kelly Wachel, who is a white woman, was hired. It didn’t even take this particular incident for the school district to know of Carpenter’s clear bias. Amy Gates, the district’s director of technology, filed her own complaint with the district in January alleging that Carpenter said to her, “Can you imagine me walking into a business roundtable meeting with a Black female as the second face of the district?”
And yet, neither of these issues led to Carpenter stepping down from his position. Instead, he resigned in July after complaining about the way the district handles their diversity training. The board agreed it would be best for Carpenter to move on and bought him out of his $750,000 a year contract.
Lee’s Summit is one of the most affluent school district’s in Missouri, but has an issue with diversity as just a quarter of the children in schools can check the “student of color” box. In fact, there is an increasing number of parents who have complained of their children being bullying based on racial identity.
The addition of Carpenter in January 2017 as the first Black superintendent was supposed to benefit the situation, when it fact, it has only made it worse.
Nixon didn’t let the naysaying of one Black man stop her. She is now the director of communications for the Raytown Quality Schools, which is a majority Black district. Nonetheless, she is using the Missouri Human Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability and age, as her main legal weapon to prove she was unlawfully discriminated against.
Court documents indicate that Nixon is looking for judgment against the defendant, for interest, for award of “compensatory and punitive damage, for her costs expended, for her reasonable attorneys’ and expert fees and expenses, and for such other and further relief the Court deems just and proper.”
The district has declined to comment because the lawsuit is still pending.