HUGHES- United States District Judge Kristine Baker found three separate claims of racial discrimination filed by former of employees of the Hughes School District to be without merit and granted the district's motion for summary judgment in the cases, which were consolidated together.
Phyllis Langford, Michael Manning, and Dovie Wolf each alleged that the school district engaged in racially discriminatory behavior when each of them lost their jobs with the district. Manning and Wolf's positions had been eliminated as the district's implemented its reduction in force policy for financial reasons. Langford refused to turn in the contract she was offered.
Hughes School District Attorney James F. Valley called the ruling, "a slam dunk." He said, "This victory for the Hughes School District could not have been more decisive. The court agreed with the district on each and every legal question raised in this case. The Hughes School District acted in accordance with the law and the court agreed there was no basis for the allegations of discrimination. In short, these plaintiffs did not and never had a case."
Superintendent Sheryl Owens was also pleased. She said, "The Hughes School District does not mistreat employees. We treat our people fairly. We always have, and we always will. We are all united behind two colors- the Blue and White that represents our school district.
In a separate case, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from attorneys representing former Superintendent Ray Nassar for attorney's fees in his lawsuit against the district over his termination. The Eighth Circuit previously reduced the amount awarded to Nassar in that dispute by $100,000.00. The panel found that the attorneys for Nassar did not meet required deadlines for making their claim.
Valley added, "These are two significant victories in federal court in one day. The Hughes School District has been vindicated in three instances and seen the damages awarded substantially limited in a fourth. This shows that the allegations against the school district have always been a farce perpetuated by disgruntled former employees throwing a tantrum."
This school district now has only one pending case. It was filed for the second time by Mary Ann Davis, a current district teacher/bus driver. Her suit involves a request for increased pay for altered bus routes. The first suit was dismissed by St. Francis County District Court Judge Steve Routon. "We intend to vigorously defend this meritless case too," said Superintendent Sheryl Owens.
"Now, our projected year-end balance should be right around $2,000,000.00 (Two Million Dollars). This is only possible because we have been making the right choices and treating people fairly in our district." Owens continued.
The Hughes School District has been ordered by the Arkansas Department of Education to consolidate with the West Memphis School District. An appeal of that order is widely expected. When asked about the consolidation issue, Valley said, "Mrs. Owens and I will have more to say on that issue at a later date."