The racism that poisons the atmosphere in Florida just keeps getting exposed. A federal lawsuit brought against a Florida school district alleges that three officials accused two Black women of cheating on an adult skills test, because “you people don’t score that high,” reports Reuters.
The Florida Civil Rights Association is representing Lelia Jackson-Burch, who is suing for violations of civil rights, defamation, and false imprisonment.
Not only did the racially charged statement offend Plaintiff (Jackson-Burch), the manner in which it was stated reveals a level of comfort and bigotry that is usually reserved for private embrace,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit describes the alleged chronology of events: Willis explained the administrators’ suspicions by saying “you people don’t score that high.” Although no other evidence of cheating was produced, the administrators demanded the women return their test scores and re-take the two-hour test. Jackson-Burch refused and got in her car but Johnson used her body to block the car from leaving. The administrators called 911.
Three deputies arrived, and Jackson-Burch allowed them to make a warrantless search of her cell phone, according to the lawsuit. In the subsequent sheriff’s report, a deputy wrote that they found no evidence of cheating and that Jackson-Burch believed the incident was racially motivated, the lawsuit stated.
The FCRA is now investigating whether racism is widespread in Citrus County. Ocala, where the incident took place, is 80 miles away from Sanford, Florida, whose penchant for racism and cover-up has been exposed during the Trayvon Martin case. Two of the administrators named in the lawsuit, director Judy Johnson and assistant director Denise Willis, are White; the third, Helena Delgado, is Hispanic.
Aretha Thomas, the other woman who was accused of cheating, accepted a $2,500 settlement from the Citrus County School Board. But Jackson-Birch refused, because, according to the lawsuit, “The administrators notified the Florida Department of Education, the Orange County School Board, and Columbia College, where Jackson-Burch had been a student for three years, [and said] she had cheated, and refused to validate her TABE test score for eight months, causing her to miss out on a pre-planned nursing course.”
School officials in Citrus County refused to comment on the case.