University of Idaho agrees to settle, change bylaws after racial discrimination claims from professor

Shaakirrah Sanders will receive $750,000, bringing an end to a lawsuit in which she alleged she was discriminated against and retaliated against by two former deans.

A former University of Idaho law professor has settled a racial and gender discrimination lawsuit filed against two former deans – but not without proposed changes to the college’s bylaws.

On Monday, Judge Lynn Winmill entered an agreed settlement awarding Shaakirrah Sanders $750,000, ending a case the former professor brought against the College of Law and former deans Mark Adams and Jerrold Long, according to KTVB 7 News.

“For the University of Idaho, this settlement is a business decision and in the best interest of our students, the university, and the state of Idaho,” said UI’s spokesperson, Jodi Walker. “Litigation costs money and time as well as creates the potential for ongoing distraction to employees and students. We wish Professor Sanders the best in her future endeavors.”

A former University of Idaho School of Law professor has settled a racial and gender discrimination lawsuit filed in 2019 against the college and two former deans. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Court documents indicate that Sanders, now at Penn State Dickinson Law, filed her lawsuit in 2019, alleging discrimination and retaliation from Adams and Long.

Adams – currently a professor at University of Idaho – served as dean from June 2014 to June 2018. The provost eventually asked him to step down due to concerns regarding his leadership, which court documents noted included issues of racial, gender and disability discrimination.

Long, who served as dean from June 2018 to May 2021, succeeded Adams.

Last year, a judge found adequate evidence to continue Sanders’ case in a trial.

Bloomberg Law reported in October 2022 that the jury would learn the law school neglected to maintain interview notes from an internal inquiry into Sanders’ racial and sexual discrimination allegations, adding that jurors could assume the notes corroborate the professor’s claims.

However, the jury ultimately informed the court it could not agree on a verdict, according to KTVB. The university, Adams and Long denied all allegations they violated Sanders’ rights.

“I initiated this litigation to obtain a record of, and accountability for, my experience as the first descendent of enslaved Americans to earn the rank of full professor at either the University or the law school,” Sanders said, KTVB reported. “I sought this record on the faith of my upbringing, my education, and my law practice experience prior to joining the legal teaching academy.”

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