Lawsuit Against Fairfax Schools, Principal Moves Forward

On Dec. 19, federal judge T.S. Ellis III rejected the Fairfax County School Board and Bailey’s Elementary School principal Marie Lemmon’s motion to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit brought against the two parties by former employees and a former student.

The lawsuit, filed on Sept. 25 in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, alleges that Lemmon discriminated against them on counts of race, gender and disability and that the Fairfax County school system retaliated against Rachel Charlton, a former assistant principal at Bailey’s, after she reported the alleged discrimination to the school system.

According to the initial complaint, Lemmon demoted African-American teachers in favor of younger, less-qualified White teachers, and stripped Charlton of various work duties after discovering that Charlton was pregnant, among other things.

In response to the motion to dismiss, Krista Goelz, the plaintiffs’ attorney, filed several affidavits written by former and current Fairfax County school system employees to support the initial claims.

Ellis III did grant the defendants’ motion to dismiss some of the discrimination claims, such as the allegation that the defendants did not accommodate the employees’ religious beliefs, harassed employees for their religious beliefs and discriminated against employees on the basis of race and ethnicity.

The allegations of sexual harassment, retaliation for complaining to administrators about the discrimination and demotion and denial of promotions on the basis of race were not thrown out. A pretrial conference will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 21.