“But in a 25-page complaint filed Tuesday in Jefferson Circuit Court, OK accuses JCPS officials of harassment along with race- and gender-based discrimination that created a “hostile work environment” and caused her an anxiety attack so severe she required hospitalization.

“It’s like they were trying to punch her continuously until the point she said, ‘To hell with this. I’m out of here,'” Hayward said.

Among those accused of hostile behavior in OK’s suit is Atherton High School Principal, who we call “AT1,” who served as interim principal from 2016 to 2018 at Highland, a feeder for Atherton.

OK’s complaint says AT1 had “no African Americans on his administrative staff” before the 2018-19 school year, except for one coordinator. 

That lack of diversity and other matters led to a state mandate for JCPS to diversify its staff, the suit says.

The mandate would come into play ahead of the school year when Highland and Atherton both had an opening for an eighth grade counselor, according to OK’s complaint.

AT1 interviewed a candidate who was Black and then suggested to OK that she also interview the candidate, according to the lawsuit. The candidate “did not impress” OK, but according to the lawsuit, AT1 later called OK and said, “I thought you two would get along; I thought you’d have a lot in common.” OK claims AT1 made that comment because she and the candidate are both Black.

When OK told a different “AT,” this time the district’s human resources director, that she did not wish to hire the person, OK claims the HR director responded that “she did not have a choice in the matter.”

And when OK went on vacation ahead of the school year, AT1 hired away a Highland counselor who understood the middle school’s “complicated” schedule to join Atherton’s staff, according to the complaint.

OK was left with the the counselor candidate she had not wanted to hire, the suit says. The move was a “conspiracy between AT1 and AT2 to set up OK,” the lawsuit claims.”


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