Woman Hired To Investigate Racism In A School District Is Facing Racial Discrimination Herself

by Gee NY
Joscelin Thomas. Image credit: LinkedIn

In a recent lawsuit, Joscelin Thomas, a former coordinator for the Davis School District in northern Utah, alleges racial discrimination and a hostile work environment, hindering her ability to address racial harassment in schools.

Thomas was hired in 2022 to investigate and respond to racial harassment complaints as part of a settlement agreement with the Justice Department.

The Davis School District faced scrutiny in 2021 after a comprehensive probe revealed racial harassment against Black and Asian American students.

Instances of racial slurs, including the N-word, and disparate discipline for minority students were documented. The district took action only after a tragic incident involving the suicide of a 10-year-old Black student, Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, who faced relentless bullying.

Despite her job to address such incidents, Thomas claims she experienced a hostile work environment, including being treated disrespectfully, accused of incompetence, and denied training opportunities given to her white colleagues.

In her complaint, she cites specific instances of mistreatment, such as being asked to clean up trash during a meeting.

One year into her position, the district decided not to renew Thomas’s contract without providing cause, effectively terminating her employment on June 30, 2023.

She alleges that, weeks before her dismissal, she attempted to address the discrimination with the district’s human resources director but was placed on administrative leave just before the meeting.

The lawsuit names the school district, along with two district employees, Fidel Montero and Suzi Jensen, and a third-party consultant, Heidi Alder, as defendants.

Thomas is seeking damages and possible reinstatement. The complaint aims to prompt systemic change within the district to create a safe and discrimination-free environment for students and employees.

The Davis School District declined to comment on the pending litigation, stating that they “will not make comments about potential litigation.”

In a general statement, the district asserted its commitment to combating harassment and discrimination, emphasizing the duty to provide a safe environment for all students, employees, and patrons.

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