A white teacher who said he suffered years of race-based abuse from his black boss at a Maryland High School was awarded $350,000 this month after he sued the school system for racial bias.
Former Prince George’s County teacher Jon Everhart claimed that the principal at Largo High School repeatedly called him racist names and constantly told him and others she intended to fire him because he is white.
“She called me ‘poor white trash’ and ‘white b—-,’ ” Everhart, 65, said of Largo principal Angelique Simpson-Marcus. “Her behavior was so outlandish.”
The teacher sued citing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.”
Everhart’s attorney, Bryan Chapman, successfully argued that Title VI applied because the school received federal stimulus money in 2008.
The jury sided with the teacher on his discrimination claim, but not the charges of a “hostile workplace.” He was awarded the $350,000 for compensatory damages because he experienced health problems as a result of the situation. He may also receive back pay and benefits.
Despite the verdict, principal Simpson-Marcus claims none of the allegations are true. “I never said any of those things,” she said. “I don’t use that kind of language.”
But this isn’t just a case of “he said, she said.” Mr. Everhart is only one of several teachers who have sued over similar claims. Some of those suing the school feel they were fired for supporting Everhart. Most of the lawsuits were filed over what teachers claim was mistreatment they suffered at the hands of Simpson-Marcus.
Not all suits were connected to Everhart, though. One suit, for instance, came from a light-skinned African American teacher who says he was denied promotion because Simpson-Marcus openly prefers dark-skinned blacks.
When Everhart and Simpson-Marcus first tangled in 2003, Everhart says that the woman who was then a gym teacher told students that the only reason the district hired a white teacher is because he couldn’t get a job anywhere else.
Everhart also alleges that Simpson-Marcus warned him that once she became principal he would be the first person she would fire.
Records show that Everhart had high teacher performance ratings and was even named “teacher of the year” until Simpson-Marcus became principal and then his satisfactory evaluations came to an abrupt halt.
Simpson-Marcus transferred Everhart out of his position teaching honors English despite that he was popular with students. The principal is said to have informed students that Everhart was going to be fired.
Everhart’s attorney successfully argued that the teacher filed multiple complaints with the school district and all were ignored. He also tried to transfer to a different school in the district but his transfer was blocked by administrators. Everhart’s attorney also says that the district never launched any investigation into Simpson-Marcus’ behavior until the teacher won his lawsuit.
After his award was handed down, Everhart said he felt justice was served.
“I do feel as though I have been vindicated,” he said.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter: @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.