Gus Burns, MLive, July 22, 2019
An Ann Arbor school principal has broken her silence about her abrupt leave of absence from Lawton Elementary, filing a lawsuit alleging discrimination.
Shannon Blick, 39, filed a $5 million federal lawsuit Saturday, July 20, against the Ann Arbor Public School District, its board, Superintendent Jeanice Swift and other administrators.
The lawsuit, filed by Ann Arbor attorney William G. Tishkoff, claims Blick faced racial discrimination, was forced into paid leave, stripped of her duties as principal and deprived of her right to free speech when she was asked to tell supporters not to comment on her behalf at a public school board meeting.
In addition to financial compensation, Blick is asking her full duties as principal be restored.
The lawsuit alleges the district “constructively terminated” Blick on April 26 when it forced her to take leave, in part because of her race, and also because Assistant Principal Taneia Giles, who is black, wanted Blick’s job.
Nine days earlier, Dicken Elementary School Principal Mike Madison, while at a dinner party for district principals at Blick’s home, “cryptically announced” Blick should take medical leave until the end of the school year and then “hide out as an assistant principal at a middle school until the dust settles,” the lawsuit says.
Blick’s lawsuit alleges that Ann Arbor school district officials “maintain a custom, policy and practice of: treating Caucasian and nonminority administrators disparately and less favorably than similarly situated African-American and minority administrators; subjecting Caucasian and nonminority administrators to hostility and harassment in the workplace based on their race; accelerating the promotion and advancement of African-American and minority administrators at the expense, and to the detriment, of Caucasian and nonminority administrators.”
When Blick on April 26 met with the Executive Director of Elementary Education Dawn Linden and Human Resources Director Shonta A. Langford, both also defendants in the lawsuit, they handed her a letter stating she was being placed on administrative leave and was no longer allowed to enter school grounds or interact with teachers, students or staff, according to the lawsuit.
On May 7, Blick appeared for a requested meeting with Linden and others. Linden indicated a group of parents planned to speak in support of Blick at the May 8 Board of Education meeting, and asked Blick to contact the parents and tell them not to speak, the lawsuit alleges.