White NJ teacher claims racial discrimination, gets $45K settlement and a promotion
PLEASANTVILLE — A white teacher who claimed she was passed over time and time again for assistant principal posts given instead to "less qualified African-American teacher(s)" has received a $45,000 settlement — and the job she'd sought for more than a decade.
Renee Marie Irwin's settlement with the Pleasantville Board of Education in Atlantic County was made in December of last year, but first reported by government transparency activist John Paff's NJ Civil Settlements blog this week.
Irwin, who had been employed by the district since 1997, said that in 2003 she applied for an assistant principal job at the district's Alternative Education School, but the job was given to a "less qualified African-American teacher."
It wasn't nearly the last time she'd make that claim. Irwin left the district to work in another as assistant principal — but when she returned to Pleasantville in 2007, again applying for an assistant principal job, was was turned down. She said in the suit the post once again went to a less qualified African American applicant.
The situation played out over and over again, she alleges. From her suit:
As the 2012/2013 school year progressed, the school administration within the Middle School was in need of more managerial assistance and two teachers were pulled from the classroom to assist the Middle School Administration, both were of African American race and had less experience and qualifications than the plaintiff or seniority and time at the district than the plaintiff.
In or around August of 2013 the position of Assistant Principal was again posted within
the defendant PleasentVille Board of Education School District. Once again, plaintiff
applied and interviewed for the position. On or around October of 2013, the position was given to yet another African American female with no administrative experience.
She says that in the summer of 2014, she applied for a posted assistant principal position, and was passed over for a black woman — but that the other woman ultimately didn't wind up in the job, after it came to light she'd had a relationship with one of the interview committee members.
Irwin says she applied for a dean of students position at the city's high school, and was passed over for another African American female who had been non-renewed as an administrator the previous year.
She alleges in the suit she was told "by at least one member that there is a long-standing practice of reverse racial discrimination will in the Pleasantville Board of Education School District." She says the district "systematically" promoted black employees over white ones, and that it failed to investigate her claims of racial discrimination.
At the 2010 United States Census, about 24 percent of Pleasantville's population was white, and about 45 percent of the city's population was black.
As part of the settlement agreement, Irwin was offered a one-year assistant principal post in the school district. She's currently listed as the assistant principal of the Leeds Avenue School.
As is typical in a settlement agreement, none of the parties involved admit to any wrongdoing.
More from New Jersey 101.5: