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Racial, disability discrimination charges filed against RPSB

(Credit: KALB)
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 5:48 PM CST
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Six employees of the Rapides Parish School Board have filed charges of racial and disability discrimination against the school board.

All six employees, who are Black, are claiming they have been racially discriminated against, with one of them also claiming they have been discriminated against based on race and disability.

There are seven total charges that have been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the earliest account dating as far back as 2016.

Five of the six employees work at the Rapides Training Academy as paraprofessionals, but claim they also do work as bus aids. Because they say they do two job duties, they should be paid both salaries. The complaints specifically list a situation where a White employee is doing the same duties and is being paid for both.

The most recent charge was filed by an employee at the Rapides Parish School District Virtual School. That charge claims the employee was denied reasonable accommodation when the employee requested a larger computer monitor due to their impaired eyesight. This employee also claims to have been the victim of disciplinary action for repeatedly requesting more training. That charge states:

“I believe I was discriminated against because of my disability and race…because of the blunt harassment and hostile work environment, I am currently seeking psychological counseling.”

All of the complaints named Rapides Parish Superintendent Jeff Powell, who gave a statement on the claims:

“We have been made aware of the notification from someone in Dallas, Texas of a pending EEOC complaint. Unfortunately, because this is rooted in a personnel issue and may give cause for investigation, we are not able to comment publicly on this situation. However, we do want the RPSB community to always have faith that when an employee grievance is filed or any other complaint or concern is reported, our intent is to always follow RPSB policy as well as state and federal laws. This potential case will be no exception. Let’s continue to show the world that Rapides Parish is truly #bettertogether.”

These claims of discrimination come as a vote to extend Powell’s contract is set to be discussed tonight. That agenda item is by board member Steve Berry. It would extend Powell’s contract by two and a half years.

Powell was selected as Rapides Parish Superintendent back in June of 2019 with a six to three vote among board members.

Norris Guillot at RPSB Meeting

Several employees have filed complaints of racial and disability discrimination against the Rapides Parish School Board just as Superintendent Jeff Powell's contract comes up for an extension. Alex Orenczuk spoke with Civil Rights Activist Norris Guillot as the RPSB is meeting on the matter:

Posted by KALB News Channel 5 on Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Civil rights activist Norris Guillot is recommending that Powell’s contract not be extended. Mr. Guillot’s organization filed the discrimination charges on behalf of six RPSB employees.

We will have more on this matter as it develops.

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