17 May 2007

Charleston Teacher Awarded Damages For Students’ Bad Language

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Failure of school authorities to impose discipline on unruly minority students due to political correctness has led to a legal award of damages to a white female teacher subjected to verbal obscenities in Charleston.

Real Clear Politics:

In a new twist in American race relations, a federal court has ruled that a white teacher in a predominantly African-American school was subjected to a racially hostile workplace.

The case concerned Elizabeth Kandrac, who was routinely verbally abused by black students at Brentwood Middle School in North Charleston. Their slurs make shock jock Don Imus look like a church deacon.

Nevertheless, despite frequent complaints, school officials did nothing to intervene on Kandrac’s behalf, arguing that the racially charged profanity was simply part of the students’ culture. If Kandrac couldn’t handle cursing, school officials told her, she was in the wrong school.

Kandrac finally filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and subsequently brought a lawsuit against the Charleston County School District, the school’s principal and an associate superintendent. Last fall, jurors found that the school was a racially hostile environment to teach in and that the school district retaliated against Kandrac for complaining about it.

The defendants sought a new trial, but U.S. District Judge David C. Norton recently affirmed the verdict. However, he did not support the jury’s findings of $307,500 in damages for lost income and emotional distress.

Although Kandrac clearly suffered — she was suspended from her job shortly after a story about her EEOC complaint appeared in the local newspaper, and her contract was not renewed — her case didn’t meet evidentiary requirements for damages. The judge said a new trial would have to determine damages, but the school district and Kandrac settled for $200,000.

Complete article

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