A Black teacher in California has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, alleging that the school failed to reprimand a co-worker who told her to "go back to Africa" and allowed other acts of racial discrimination.
In the lawsuit, Tiffany Wright accused Santa Monica's New Roads School of fostering a hostile and discriminatory work environment and wrongfully terminating her, per the Daily Beast.
Wright, who began working at the school in 2018, claimed that she witnessed children and teachers being treated differently based on their race. In September 2019, a white male co-worker told her to “go back to Africa,” but didn't face any consequences because school officials said he didn't mean it, Wright said.
According to the suit, the private school lured her into the position with its alleged commitment to diversity, which she later found out wasn't upheld.
“At the School, Plaintiff experienced almost the exact opposite of anti-racism, being confronted with absurd and offensive comments like ‘go back to Africa,'” per the suit. “When she complained about this and the overall racism she had experienced, she was ignored, shunned, told to shut up, ‘eat sh**,’ and was even threatened by the school’s administrators.”
Wright alleges that white parents who pay New Road's full tuition, which is more than $43,000 annually, and make large donations have a significant influence over how the school is managed, including selecting which teachers are kept on and which students face disciplinary consequences. According to the suit, minority students at the school typically receive financial aid and have little to no influence on its direction.
“The School was cognizant of this differential treatment based on race and still encouraged it, pressuring teachers to take better care of the full-paying white students,” the suit says, per the Daily Beast. “The School also pressured teachers to appease and do whatever the parents of full-paying white students wanted, including changing their children’s grades and treating them better than any of the minority half-paying scholarship students.”
In another instance, a school presentation on the word "laugh" featured a photo of Vice President Kamala Harris next to an ape, which was “jarring and racially offensive to many students and faculty members," Wright said.
In May 2021, officials declined to renew Wright's contract for the upcoming academic year.
New Roads School didn't respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit, according to the Daily Beast.