Monday, December 20, 2021

Romulus superintendent files whistleblower suit, racial discrimination lawsuit against district

Posted By on Mon, Dec 20, 2021 at 2:08 PM

Superintendent Benjamin Edmondson. - ROMULUS COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
  • Romulus Community Schools
  • Superintendent Benjamin Edmondson.
The Romulus Community Schools superintendent is suing the district, alleging racial discrimination and whistleblower violations when the school board placed him on indefinite leave and replaced him with a less qualified white person.

Benjamin Edmondson, who is Black and became superintendent in August 2020, was placed on administrative leave “just days after he ‘blew the whistle’ and reported his concerns about a potential violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act,” the lawsuit states, The Detroit News first reported.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court, alleges violations of the Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The defendants are board President Debi Pyles, Vice President Judy Kennard, Secretary Susan Evitts, and Trustee Nichole German as defendants.

From the beginning of his tenure, Edmondson was inundated by a “sustained campaign of harassment” from board members who began "pushing back on decisions within his discretion as superintendent, interfering with his ability to perform his job and improve the school district, and causing multiple District administrators and employees to quit," the lawsuit alleges.

Edmondson, who has a master’s and doctorate degree, was replaced with a white person who was paid more and had few qualifications.

While Edmondson was on a six-week absence for heart surgery, the board hired Dixon Public Consulting to examine the district’s finances. The board then used findings from the consultation to justify its decision to place him on leave on Sept. 27, according to the suit.

A week earlier, Edmondson expressed concerns that the school board was violating the Michigan Open Meetings Act by failing to make meeting minutes available in a timely fashion. Without those minutes, he said he could not properly do his job.

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