Former principal sues Jefferson City Public Schools for racial hostility


    A former Lewis and Clark Middle School principal sued the Jefferson City Public School District for violating the Missouri Human Rights Act. (Mark Slavit/KRCG 13)

    A former Lewis and Clark Middle School principal sued the Jefferson City Public School District for violating the Missouri Human Rights Act by creating a racially hostile environment.

    Dr. Sherri Thomas filed her petition for damages in Cole County Circuit Court. Thomas’ lawsuit claims district officials created a racially hostile, ageist, retaliatory environment. The lawsuit alleges School Superintendent Larry Linthicum and Assistant Superintendent Gary Verslues made racially insensitive remarks to Thomas and other people.

    The petition claims Superintendent Linthicum told hundreds of people during the opening ceremony of the new school year in August 2016, “We need to watch for kids of colorand saggy pants.” Thomas quit her job as Lewis and Clark Middle School principal in June 2018. Thomas claimed she still wanted to work for the district and decided to leave in hopes of avoiding the humiliation of being openly forced out.

    Jefferson City Public School officials said Thomas’ claims were false. In a statement to KRCG 13, Jefferson City Public School spokeswoman Ryan Burns said, “We find Ms. Thomas' allegations to be patently untrue and appreciate having an opportunity to present our perspective throughout the judicial process.”

    Thomas' case was the third employment discrimination lawsuit filed against the district in 2019. The other two cases were filed in January by Naveed Malik and Denise Rackers.

    A gender discrimination lawsuit filed by former district employee Robert Jones was dismissed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

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