Friday, April 28, 2017

Former Pennsauken High School principal says she will sue school district for racial discrimination.

On February 2, 2017,  a former principal of Pennsauken (Camden County) High School withdrew a racial discrimination complaint she filed in 2015 with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (NJDCR) because she "decided to pursue this matter in the Superior Court of New Jersey."

In her NJDCR complaint, Tameka Matthews said that she was hired in 2008 as an elementary school principal and promoted to principal of Pennsauken High in August 2013.  Effective July 1, 2015, she claimed that she was "demoted . . . to a lower paying, elementary school principal position."  She said that the demotion decision was based on her being Black and female.

The school board's June 25, 2015 minutes confirm that Matthews was transferred from Pennsauken High School to Fine and Roosevelt Elementary effective July 1, 2015.  The same minutes also show her high school principal salary as $114,027.  The September 24, 2015 minutes show her elementary principal salary as $105,474.

Matthews claimed that James Chapman, the then interim superintendent, told her that he did not have to give her a reason for the demotion.  But, Matthews' complaint alleges that Chapman explained to the teacher's union president that he was an "old, white male."  The complaint says that Chapman wanted to replace Matthews with Vice Principal Rich Bonkowski who the complaint characterizes as "a less qualified, Caucasian individual."

The Board's website, as of the date of this writing, does not list Matthews as a school principal.  It does, however, show Bonkowski as the principal of the district's intermediate school.

A check of the Superior Court docket does not show that Matthews has yet filed her lawsuit.

None of Matthews' allegations have been proven.  If she does file her lawsuit, Pennsauken school officials will have an opportunity to require her to prove her allegations to a jury.