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Clarkston police chief alleges city manager kept secret personnel file on her

Clarkston Crime and public safety Trending

Clarkston police chief alleges city manager kept secret personnel file on her

Shawanna Qawiy, Clarkston's city manager.

Clarkston, GA — Clarkston’s police chief and her attorney are in discussions with the city of Clarkston about resolving her grievance against City Manager Shawanna Qawiy.

The news comes after the police chief appealed Qawiy’s initial response to her grievance, filed on April 20. That appeal, filed on May 8, alleges that Qawiy kept a separate personnel file on Police Chief Christine Hudson, full of documents — and a write-up — that Hudson had never seen or signed.

“It has since come to Chief Hudson’s attention that City Manager Qawiy has maintained a separate file on Chief Hudson that includes inaccurate incident reports and disciplinary actions,” the appeal says. “Chief Hudson had not previously seen these documents, and they were not in her regularly maintained personnel file with the city clerk.”

Qawiy denied the allegation.

“The City does not create or maintain unauthorized records on employees,” she said. “We strive to ensure transparency, fairness, and privacy in all our employment practices.”

Hudson’s appeal accuses Qawiy of trying to force, “Chief Hudson out of her role as Chief of the Clarkston Police Department by padding her personnel file with pretextual and suspicious write-ups.”

Ed Buckley, Hudson’s attorney, said the city and Hudson are working through their differences.

“We are in a dialogue with the city to see if we can resolve this matter and the appeal is stayed during this period of time,” he said.

Hudson initially filed her grievance after Qawiy suspended her for five days without pay. Qawiy restored her pay but upheld her suspension. Hudson, who is white, said the city manager, who is Black, has displayed “animus” toward white people and also filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Qawiy denied that racial bias played any role in her decisions.

Upon learning about the alleged separate personnel file, Hudson amended that EEOC complaint.

“It appears that City Manager Qawiy is making efforts to force me out of my role as chief of the Clarkston Police Department by padding my personnel file with pretextual and bogus write-ups,” Hudson wrote. “The City of Clarkston has subjected me to (1) race discrimination, (2) a racially hostile work environment, and (3) retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.”

Her grievance appeal attachments include an “employee action form” dated Jan. 6, 2022, that has Hudson’s and Qawiy’s signatures and is described as a “verbal reprimand” for “conduct unbecoming a city officer or employee.” The document doesn’t describe what that conduct was, and Hudson said she’s never seen this document and didn’t sign it.

“I did not sign that form, and I’ll go take a polygraph on that,” Hudson said. “That’s how confident I am.”

The alleged separate personnel file also includes a “harassment incident report” from March 2023 that accuses Hudson and other officers of creating a hostile working environment. Qawiy didn’t discuss this incident with Hudson, her appeal says. There’s a separate memo, from March 2023, accusing Hudson and other officers of “loud, disruptive and harassing behavior.” The behavior allegedly created a “nuisance for employees and patrons” at the chief court clerk’s office. In her appeal, Hudson said she’s never seen this document or discussed it with Qawiy.

The document says this issue was discussed with Hudson.

“Chief Hudson files this request for appeal to correct the damage to her professional reputation caused by City Manager Qawiy’s actions,” Hudson’s appeal says. “Chief Hudson is a dedicated law enforcement officer with a stellar reputation in the community, who joined the Clarkston Police Department in 2009 and has served as its chief since 2012. Throughout her approximately forty-year career in law enforcement, Chief Hudson has received countless awards, accolades, and extensive training. Despite Chief Hudson’s excellent service and commitment to serving city of Clarkston citizens, City Manager Qawiy has repeatedly tried to impede Chief Hudson’s ability to perform her job based on her discriminatory animus towards white people.”

Amid the back and forth between Qawiy and Hudson, the police department has been staring down a staffing crisis. Hudson previously said the city could be down to nine officers by mid-July out of an authorized force of 21. On Monday, Mayor Beverly Burks announced a plan to increase police pay to try and head off the issue.

Burks also announced the city will be bringing on a consultant to examine the city’s workplace culture, amid complaints about Qawiy’s management to city leadership.

“We’re looking at ensuring that all of our employees are able to function and do their job,” Burks said. “We will do the follow-ups that we need to ensure that that happens. Additionally, we will also look in terms of doing a study that the overall culture of our workplace is something that is desirable for our employees to be able to function.”

Zoe Seiler contributed reporting to this article. 

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