Discrimination suit filed against CCSD by former Baptist Hill teacher

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A former Charleston County School District teacher had filed suit against the district and administrators at Baptist Hill High School claiming she was racially and sexually harassed by students.

Former 10th grade biology teacher Heather Leamon filed the suit last week against the school's principal, Kayla Goodwine, and assistant principal, Robert Burnsed, as well as James Winbush, the district's associate superintendent.

Leamon claims the abuses she endured in the classrooms and hallways of Baptist Hill left her suffering from anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"She was routinely cursed and treated in a horribly offensive manner based on her race and gender," said Leamon's attorney, Larry Kobrovsky. "Depending on your race and gender is what your treatment is going to be like as a teacher. And that is wrong on a personal level because nobody should be subject to hostility or mistreatment because of their race or gender."

Leamon claims that between August and October 2012, school and district officials repeatedly failed to discipline students who were openly abusive towards her with racially and sexually insensitive comments.

Leamon claims students would call her "bitch" or "white bitch" repeatedly during her time there. One student wrote the word "bitch" on the floor in from of her desk and another left a note for her telling her she needed to be anally violated, according to the filing.

She says none of the students who verbally attacked her at the predominantly black high school were punished for their behavior even though the acts were against the district's student handbook.

According to Leamon, Goodwine and Burnsed "refused to punish the student in any way and even refused to remove the student from the classroom, all of which then encouraged the other students to escalate the racial and sexual harassment of [Leamon]."

Instead of punishment, Leamon says Burnsed told her "this was the way these kids were."

She goes on to say that she was told of a racial hierarchy by an unnamed Instructional Coordinator assigned to her classroom in which black men and women were at the top of the order followed by white men and then white women.

Leamon was eventually transferred out of the school to one she says is an hour from her Colleton County home, but the students she alleges discriminated against her were never punished.

The suit says the hierarchy has created an atmosphere at the school that administrators knowingly forces white female teachers out of positions there.

To further the allegations of a racial hierarchy, the filing also points to the 5-day expulsion of a white School of the Arts student who, during time outside of school, tweeted a racially insensitive remark.

"As the complaint says you know she feels she did everything that she had to do, made the proper complaints about the behavior and was treated differently because of her race and gender," explained Kobrovsky.

He says the complaint mentions the school district has a double standard for the victims of racial or sexual abuse in the way in carries out its policy against that type of harassment. For now, he's waiting for a jury to hear the case.

"The case will be tried in court. We hope. And we stand by what she said in the complaint," he said.

The school district said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Kobrovsky won in 2006 a $300,000 verdict in a similar lawsuit for former teacher Elizabeth Kandrac. Kandrac claimed she was battling discrimination at the hands of Brentwood Middle School students.