A former teacher at Boston Community Leadership Academy won his lawsuit against the school district. The teacher, Charles Sherman Neal, was awarded $1.7 million according to coverage from the Boston Globe.
As reported by the Globe, Neal’s journey for justice began several years ago when he began documenting his treatment at the school. Despite positive work reviews, Neal was pushed out of his position for raising discrimination concerns.
Hired to start a gym program, Neal was the only Black male teacher on staff. He began working at the school in a part-time capacity starting in 2008 and was brought on full-time in 2012. But Neal alleged disparities persisted in the way he was treated as compared to his white colleagues.
While the jury did not find that Boston Public Schools discriminated against him, it did find school officials retaliated against Neal for addressing concerns of workplace discrimination.
“Jury awards don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, in an interview with the Boston Globe. “Juries are paying attention to developments, such as Black Lives Matter, and what institutions are doing to get ahead of the curb on diversity, inclusion, and equity.” (Read the full article here).
Recent demographic data shows Boston Public Schools enrollment is 29 percent Black, 43 percent Latino, 8.9 percent Asian, and 15.2 percent white.
The school system is not alone in dealing with issues of racism and discrimination. News reports show that local school systems have grappled with racist incidents in recent weeks.
Students at Quincy High School walked out of their school in response to what some felt was the administration’s poor handling of racist incidents that arose. Two Black Principals in Newton Public Schools received racist backlash for conversations about the verdicts in two recent high-profile trials.
People may have different opinions on addressing current events and matters of public interest, but threats and attacks on educators are unwarranted. The jury award also comes at a time when having honest conversations about racism and discrimination is becoming increasingly more difficult in school districts and classrooms across the country.
While addressing these issues has never been easy, cases like this one prove it is essential to have a clear understanding of equity, racism, discrimination, and other forms of injustice.