The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is concurrently investigating this matter.
Dr. William Leamon Madison was a hometown hero in Colquitt County, graduating from Colquitt County Schools as a star football athlete, then working his way up for nearly two decades within the school system from a paraprofessional all the way to high school principal. For the past 17 years, Dr. Madison received stellar end of year performance evaluations.
All of that changed dramatically after Dr. Madison sent an email to faculty and staff at Cox Elementary after the murder of George Floyd.
In his email, Dr. Madison encouraged the staff to be supportive of students, as well as speaking out against racial injustice in a positive affirming way. The superintendent summoned Dr. Madison to his office. The superintendent informed Dr. Madison that several school board members were upset at his email and called for his job. Emboldened, a white teacher told Dr. Madison, “We’re going to lynch you.” Dr. Madison reported this hate crime to the central office only to be told he could write the teacher up. Three days later, the board decided to terminate Dr. Madison’s employment.
After he was terminated from employment, Dr. Madison made a request under Georgia’s Open Records Act seeking 1) a copy of his personnel file; 2) cell phone text messages and emails from school board members and school officials relating to Dr. Madison; 3) information related to the desegregation consent decree, and the demographic makeup of Colquitt County Schools as it pertains to Blacks in teaching positions and positions of leadership. When the school district made incomplete or deficient responses especially relating to text messages, GAE had no other choice but to file suit in defense Dr. Madison’s rights. The case is currently in the discovery phase of litigation.
We Are Creating a Desegregation Order Data Base
Why? Race discrimination cases are often limited to individual remedies such as back pay. But GAE members frequently seek justice more broadly so that what happened to them will not happen to anyone else in the school system. To achieve individual and systemic remedies, we are compiling a school district desegregation order data base from all Georgia public school districts. We have found that long forgotten and buried desegregation orders open individual race discrimination claims to a whole new front — confronting systemic racism across the school districts. With a desegregation decree and associated plans, we can better examine the district’s race conscious affirmative action policies. For example, what are the district’s recruitment plans for increasing the number of qualified Black applicants for teacher and professional positions? Has the district created a
hiring and recruitment procedure that will incorporate nondiscriminatory hiring practices? Has the district instituted professional training for the superintendent, assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and human resource professionals, relating to personal bias? Above all, is the school district complying with its own race-conscious policies? With the aid of desegregation orders, GAE can require the school district to update its commitment to racial justice through enforceable consent decrees.