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White teachers file bias suit against Philly schools

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Thomas Mifflin Elementary School sits in an affluent, predominantly white Philadelphia neighborhood that’s home to dignitaries such as former Gov. Ed Rendell and former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. But most neighborhood children attend private schools, while Mifflin’s students are mostly poor (85%), black (86%) and from elsewhere in the city. The school has long symbolized many of Philadelphia’s racial and economic disparities.

Now Mifflin Elementary has been roiled by news of a lawsuit filed by four white teachers who claim they are victims of race discrimination.

Among their allegations: The school’s former principal persistently undermined their work, randomly changed room assignments and enforced rule infractions against them, but not black teachers. They say he also directed them to read an article claiming “white teachers do not have the ability to teach African-American students.”

The lawsuit names as defendants the School District of Philadelphia, the former principal and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers union, which the teachers allege did not back them up when they complained.

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