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Lawsuit accuses City Schools of Decatur of withholding records about diversity initiatives

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Lawsuit accuses City Schools of Decatur of withholding records about diversity initiatives

Image obtained via DeKalb County Superior Court records

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — A personal injury attorney is suing the City Schools of Decatur over its response to his public records request for information about the school district’s diversity initiatives.

That attorney, Charles Scholle, also is representing himself in the lawsuit he filed in DeKalb County Superior Court on April 29. Scholle declined to comment when contacted by Decaturish. City Schools of Decatur declined comment, citing pending litigation.

Scholle’s suit is the latest litigation facing the school district. CSD also faces four federal lawsuits, all of which were filed while David Dude was the district’s superintendent. Dude left the district following a series of investigative stories by Decaturish into the allegations raised in one of those lawsuits. Scholle’s lawsuit was filed two days after the district announced Dude’s departure, and it makes several allegations against the school district.

“Since late 2020, the Defendant CSD has been a Defendant in five separate civil rights lawsuits (one of which included complaints that CSD violated of the Georgia Open Records Act), several ethics complaints by high ranking school administrators (including the superintendent), two separate investigations of the district superintendent (who later was fired), whistleblower complaints, allegations of coverups, allegations of financial improprieties and malfeasance, allegations of racial grade fixing and numerous other scandals,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says that on Jan. 3, Scholle requested records related to the district’s employee “equity” “diversity”, and “unconscious bias” training curriculum.

The lawsuit says all the courses were produced and taught by the Pacific Education Group, a company based in San Francisco California. The lawsuit claims CSD has paid the company more than $150,000 in the past 18 months.

“Plaintiff requested copies of the training materials and curriculum, as well as documents detailing CSD’s expenditures therefor,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says CSD took two weeks to respond to the request instead of the three days required by law.

In its response, the school district told Scholle “some of the requested ‘curriculum’ documents may be exempt from disclosure as they may constitute proprietary information or trade secrets.”

The school district’s attorney eventually allowed Scholle to view the records at her office using a jump drive installed on the attorney’s laptop. But the attorney prohibited Scholle from making any copies, the lawsuit says.

“Such ‘access’ did not allow Plaintiff to reasonably review the information, as there were over 1,000 pages of documents, many with elaborate surveys, graphics, statistics, academic studies, scientific data and charts,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit contends that CSD “unlawfully refused to provide electronic copies of public records.”

Scholle is asking a judge to force CSD to provide the records and pay his fees for filing the lawsuit.

CSD has filed a response denying the allegations and requesting a judge dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint.

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