Black substitute teacher at George Unseld Early Learning Center - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Black substitute teacher at George Unseld Early Learning Center claims discrimination

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A black teacher at an early learning center in Louisville says she was demoted by a known-racist administrator.

That teacher, Mattie Mills, is still a substitute at the George Unseld Early Learning Center. Jefferson County Public Schools says the administrator in question hasn't worked in the building for months.

Mills has worked as a teacher in the JCPS school district for four years. She says that back on April 14, she was appointed as the lead teacher at the school. Less than a week later, Mills says she was told by the center's director, Stephanie Johnson, she'd no longer be holding that position.

"If there was quote/unquote a justifiable reason, tell us what the justifiable reason is," attorney Teddy Gordon said. "We'll listen, and if we accept it, we'll go about our business. But we hear nothing, and we are left with the ultimate belief that the sole reason was racial discrimination because of her race." 

Mills says Johnson directed the interim principal to demote her.

"She came to the school, which I was told by the interim principal, and the interim principal stated that she had me transferred or demoted back to the instruction assistant," Mills said.

While Mills says the incident happened in April, JCPS says Johnson has not been the director of the Unseld Center for several months and currently has no authority to promote or demote.

On Thursday, Mills' attorney said the apparent demotion was fueled by racism. As we reported in 2012, the administrator in question was placed on administrative leave for sending, "racially sensitive emails." Gordon shared those photos and emails allegedly sent by Johnson which show an African-American doll in different settings around the school.

"I don't understand why a person who did these sort of things and got demoted at Dixie Elementary, would be reassigned as a director, especially at George Unseld," Gordon said.

JCPS officials say they cannot comment on pending litigation.

Mills says she was never given a reason for the apparent demotion, but a district official would only say Mills was not fired or demote. She still works as a substitute teacher.

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