FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — A metro Atlanta school district is under fire for alleged discrimination. Two lawsuits have been filed by high-ranking African American school employees. One was demoted and the other was terminated.
"Bridget Marques was an exceptional teacher who became a principal in a very short period of time," her attorney Artur Davis said.
State Bridge Crossing Elementary School in Johns Creek has proudly been named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence under Marques' leadership. This is one of the highest achievements for American schools. Marques' attorney said she was terminated out of retaliation after reporting an associate superintendent for racial comments allegedly made during meetings.
Now, she's suing.
The lawsuit states the remarks included imitating speech and dialect patterns of Asians and a mimicking reference to members of the LGBT community as "girly men."
"You can’t joke about people’s ethnic dialects. You can’t joke about people’s sexual orientation," Marques said. She added comments like these were repeated on multiple occasions.
Davis states complaints were then made about Marques' not being in her office for eight hours each day during the summer break and leaving work early.
He said these claims are not true and easily refutable had there been an investigation. Davis said principals are allowed to complete some of their work at home during the summer, and emails and text messages can show Marques' work during those times in question.
"We believe was retaliating against Bridgette Marques' for reporting him and getting him in trouble," Davis said.
However, that's not the only active discrimination lawsuit against the district -- Robert Bailey is suing too. He is also being represented by Davis.
"He complained about discrimination in the office of technology. Within 10 days of his complaint about discrimination, he was demoted and made to take an $80,000 pay cut," Davis said.
His lawsuit states he was "subjected to retaliation based on the fact that he initiated internal complaints of discrimination."
"This is twice in the last six months or so that there have been allegations against the Fulton County School District of demotions or unjustified employment actions for its senior African American individuals," Davis added.
Fulton County Schools did not respond directly to questions about the allegations. Officials sent 11Alive this response:
Fulton County Schools values the diversity of our employees, students, and community. The district maintains an independent investigative department for employee complaints. The district reviews any and all complaints seriously and thoroughly.