Feds find racial discrimination at Tukwila School District

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted Daryl Wright.


TUKWILA, Wash. -- The Tukwila School District has come under fire for an issue that has cast a shadow over the district for several years.

An investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reveals evidence of racism against minority staff, including teachers and administrators.

"It's for the most part black on black discrimination," said Attorney Richard Wooster, who represents a teacher who filed a complaint against the district.

On Friday, a group of teachers stood together overjoyed by the decision that has been a long time coming.

"I'm very elated about it," said Sandra Goins, who is a teacher at Showalter Middle School in Tukwila. "I'm very happy."

Nine minority staff members accuse former Tukwila superintendent Ethelda Burke, who is also African American, of racial discrimination. Burke stepped down from the district's top post in last July amid the controversy. Staff member say she often used inappropriate slurs during the school day.

"I was called 'J Darky' by the former superintendent," said JD Hall, who is the Athletics and Actives Director at Foster High School in Tukwila. "I was also told that I was making her district look like a ghetto for hiring African American coaches and African American bus drivers."

The nine staff members filed their claim with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the alleged racial discrimination in the Tukwila School District months ago.

Friday the agency released those finding saying their investigation found, "sufficient evidence to indicate a hostile work environment consisting of race and color harassment."

The Tukwila School District released a statement in response to the EEOC findings.

"We have and continue to adamantly deny the allegations made by this small group of employees," the statement reads. "Tukwila is proud to be considered the most diverse school district in the nation and has worked tirelessly to ensure its students and staff enjoy a positive environment, free from discrimination, in which to learn and teach."

But Foster High School's former assistant principal said he hopes the federal agency's findings bring change and a better work environment for staff and students in the Tukwila School District.

"It's difficult to work in a school when you don't have leadership that is treating people with respect and dignity," said Daryl Wright, who was forced out of his position as assistant principal at Foster High School following his claim of racial discrimination.

The district and teachers will now meet together to try and reach a settlement. Or the case will be handed over to the department of justice.