By Chrissy Clark
A public elementary school administrator filed a lawsuit against her former employer for allegedly creating a “racially hostile” work environment, according to a press release from the teacher’s legal representation.
Emily Mais and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) submitted a legal complaint against Albemarle County School Board after the district reportedly “forced” Mais to leave her job. Mais alleges in the complaint that she was “severely harassed and discriminated” against by colleagues at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School for raising concerns about “anti-racism” training for teachers.
Mais’ problems with the district began in Feb. 2019 when the district adopted an “Anti-Racism Policy.” In Nov. 2020, the school held a “mandatory online orientation presentation for all [district] staff to introduce the Policy.”
“During the orientation, the [district] suggested that anyone opposed to their Policy was a ‘racist’ and should consider finding a different job,” the lawsuit alleges.
In March 2021, Mais attended a district-wide professional development webinar entitled, “Becoming an Anti-Racist School System: A Courageous Conversation.” The curriculum taught educators that acts of racism can only be committed by members of the so-called “dominant race,” which is defined as white people.
The training curriculum was based on the book “Courageous Conversations About Race,” which the Virginia Office of Public Instruction dubbed as an “inherently divisive concept” that is “harmful to students and staff members alike.” (RELATED: Here Are The Critical Race Theory Programs Gov. Glenn Youngkin Has Rescinded)
ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson argued that the training “promotes racial discrimination.”
“Instead of training faculty members to embrace students of all races, Albemarle County school officials are using a curriculum that promotes racial discrimination,” Anderson said.
The lawsuit claims that during sessions of the Courageous Conversations training, “white staff members attempting to participate were shut down or dismissed in front of other staff members and told they could not understand the topic because of the color of their skin.”
“The training sets up a classic Catch-22: It encourages all staff members to ‘speak their truth,’ but when a white person like Emily raises concerns about the divisive content, she is deemed a racist in need of further ‘anti-racism’ instruction,” Anderson continued.
Mais alleges that the peak of her harassment was led by teacher Sheila Avery, who claimed to speak for black people amid the Courageous Conversations programming. Mais asked a question during a training program wherein she used the phrase “colored people” instead of “people of color.
The lawsuit states that Mais “quickly apologized for the slip of the tongue.” Avery, who was leading the training, “ignored the apology and verbally attacked Ms. Mais for her slip of the tongue during the training and in front of all attendees, accusing Ms. Mais of speaking like old racists who told people of color to go to the back of the bus.”
Following the slip-up, Mais received an email from the school’s guidance counselor asking if she would like to “unpack” her comments. Mais said she saw the email as a “veiled threat” and that she would be reported if she didn’t discuss the matter. The district asked her to apologize again to staff members, and Mais capitulated.
“Multiple employees” reportedly told Mais that Avery was “openly slandering” the administrator and “openly cursing about her and calling her vulgar names at work, telling other employees she was a racist and that she intentionally demeaned black people, and trying to turn other employees against her.”
Examples of slanderous phrases included, “That white racist b***h” and “That two-faced racist b***h,” according to the lawsuit. Mais allegedly reported this harassment to “numerous [district] officials, none of whom take any action to stop it.”
The teacher resigned on Aug. 29, 2021, effective Sept. 10, 2021, according to the complaint. The district’s communications officers reportedly told Mais to say that she was leaving “to explore another career opportunity,” though Mais claims this was “untrue.”
The district also asked Mais to make one final public apology during a Sept. 9, 2021 staff meeting. She agreed to make the final apology, though she was “not allowed to express any hurt or discomfort from her serial mistreatment by district officials because, as a white person, expressing such emotions would be racist.”
Mais alleges that Avery stood near her office for an hour watching who went in and out to wish her good luck and goodbye.
Phil Giaramita, a district spokesman, told the Daily Caller that the district has not formally been served.
“We have not yet formally been served in this lawsuit so we have not had a full opportunity to review its allegations,” Giaramita said. “If served, we look forward to addressing these assertions in the appropriate legal forum.”
ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents in the same district alleging that the board enacted “discriminatory policies based on critical race theory and indoctrinating students in radical ideology.”