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Decatur School Board holding another closed-door meeting to discuss legal, personnel matters

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Decatur School Board holding another closed-door meeting to discuss legal, personnel matters

FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education. Top row, left to right: former Superintendent David Dude and School Board Chair Lewis Jones. Bottom row, left to right: School board members James Herndon, Tasha White (Vice Chair), Heather Tell and Jana Johnson-Davis. Image obtained via City Schools of Decatur

Decatur, GA — For the second time this week, City Schools of Decatur’s Board of Education will have a closed door meeting to discuss legal and personnel matters.

These meetings, known as executive sessions, are legal under state law. School Board members on Feb. 9 held an executive session at 5 p.m. to discuss legal and personnel matters. That meeting was held prior to the School Board’s regular meeting. The next executive session is scheduled for Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. Superintendent David Dude said there are no actions anticipated following this meeting.

Currently, the school district is the target of five ongoing federal lawsuits, 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 each lawsuit filed against the school district:

– 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].”

– 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.

–  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. The custodian, Shutoku Shia, filed the lawsuit in November.

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