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Former custodian sues City Schools of Decatur seeking unpaid wages


Former custodian sues City Schools of Decatur seeking unpaid wages

Fifth Avenue Upper Elementary, City Schools of Decatur, located on Fifth Avenue.


Decatur, GA — A former City Schools of Decatur custodian is suing the district in federal court, alleging the district didn’t pay him overtime wages he was owed.

His attorney, David Cheng, said his client is seeking $2,400.

“My philosophy if a client comes to me with a particular lawsuit, if they’ve been wronged, even if the amount of damages is not that great, I would still take on the lawsuit,” Cheng said. “To them, $2,400 may be a lot of money, even though it may not be the case for myself.”

The custodian, Shutoku Shia, filed the lawsuit in November. City Schools of Decatur declined to comment on the suit.

“CSD denies these allegations from this former employee,” spokesperson Courtney Burnett said.

According to the suit, Shia was employed by CSD as a custodian from Feb. 2018 through May 2019. Before that, he worked part-time for the district. During his time working for the district, the lawsuit said, custodians were required to clean one school per day. But Shia says he was often tasked with doing more cleaning than his duties required to cover for other custodians who were sick or on vacation.

According to the suit, around Dec. 6 2018, the district’s custodial supervisor asked Shia to clean Fifth Avenue Elementary, Westchester Elementary and Glenwood Elementary. Shia would clean Fifth Avenue first and would alternate between the other schools so he would clean two schools daily. He was told he’d receive overtime pay, according to the suit.

When he submitted his overtime log, the district refused to pay him, the lawsuit says.

It’s the third federal lawsuit against the district that has come to light this week, and one of five ongoing federal lawsuits pending against the district, four of which were filed in 2020. According to federal court records, before 2020, the district faced four federal claims between 1998 and 2012.

Here is a summary of the other claims the district faces, in addition to Shia’s lawsuit:

– David Adams, the district’s former Executive Director of Staff Support, filed a federal lawsuit on Jan. 19. Adams alleges that Dude’s public statement about his departure from the district hampered his ability to find work and breached a non-disparagement clause of his severance agreement with the district. He alleges a central office shakeup in December 2019 occurred because employees expressed concerns that Dude took more vacations than his contract allowed.

– Cheryl Nahmias, formerly a Decatur High Instructional Coach/International Baccalaureate Coordinator, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Dec. 23 alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. Her son made a racist video which became public in May 2020. She sued the school district after she was demoted and reassigned to a job within CSD’s central office. She claims the demotion was the culmination of a months’ long campaign of retaliation against her for sticking up for her son’s rights and for years of whistleblowing activities within the district.

– The mother of a girl allegedly assaulted in an Oakhurst Elementary bathroom is suing the district, alleging the district violated her Title IX rights.  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 2020 concluded its investigation prompted by an allegation that a gender-fluid boy assaulted the girl in an Oakhurst Elementary school bathroom. The investigation, which began in 2018, could not substantiate that an assault ever occurred. It did, however, note that City Schools of Decatur did not follow the proper investigative procedures under Title IX, the federal law that protects students from discrimination.

– A different Title IX lawsuit against City Schools of Decatur alleges the principals at Renfroe Middle School failed to prevent a sexual assault. The victim’s mother, who is not identified in the complaint, alleges that the student accused of assaulting her daughter had sexually assaulted a different student on campus during school hours two months before her daughter’s assault. The lawsuit says, “Despite having actual knowledge of the earlier sexual assault, Defendants failed to take appropriate remedial and/or preventative steps to prevent [the suspect] from continuing further sexual assaults and groping of other students at RMS, including [the victim], or to otherwise take appropriate steps as mandated by law for the safety and well-being of other RMS students, including but not limited to [the victim].”

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