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Foster's assistant principal reassigned to Cascade View

The Tukwila School District has placed former Foster High School Assistant Principal Daryl Wright on paid administrative leave and reassigned him to work at Cascade View Elementary School for the upcoming school year.

Wright was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this week. A letter dated May 31 from interim Superintendent Mellody Matthes states Wright will transfer to the role of K-8 teacher at Cascade View Elementary effective for the 2013-2014 school year.

The reason for the transfer, she wrote, is due to "the district's staff needs and your expressed desires . . . to work with and make a difference to the district's most diverse community and student body."

But Wright's attorney offered another reason for the transfer

"Mr. Wright views this as a demotion and retaliatory action by the specific people he has complained about in terms of their unwillingness to respect him as an African-American male and role model in the community," said Joan Mell, the attorney representing Wright and the other eight plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the school district.

Wright has requested a stay of this decision until the new superintendent, Nancy Coogan, and new principal of Foster High School, Pat Larson, have begun their terms this summer so that they can make a final decision.

"They (the current administration) are trying to get rid of the color in Tukwila," Mell said. "They didn't move him into another leadership role. They took him out of a leadership role."

The original lawsuit, filed Feb. 12 in King County Superior Court, outlines issues of racial discrimination experienced by nine faculty and staff members within the school district.

"The Tukwila School District and its officials endorse a white agenda and systematically repress equality in education and teaching," the lawsuit states.

Wright's placement on administrative leave, in addition to other infrastructural issues such as overcrowded spaces on campus and student achievement, are outlined in the amended complaint Mell submitted this week as well.

"(The assignment transfer) is meant and intended to undermine Daryl Wright," Mell said. "There is no basis to let him go from Foster."

In an email sent June 7, Mike Patterson, counsel for the district, expressed that Wright's assignment transfer was not connected to the lawsuit in any way.

"The district strongly refutes any suggestion that transferring Mr. Wright to a teaching position for which he is qualified and endorsed is in any way related to his pending litigation or as a consequence of his allegations in the lawsuit," wrote Patterson. "The district has, and continues to, dispute any claims that it discriminates against any of its employees or students based on their race and can state with certainty that no reprisals of any kind have been taken or will be taken by any school administrator or the board against any district employee because of his or her participation in past or present grievance procedures or litigation.

"Tukwila School District takes great pride in providing all students with equal access to an exemplary education and is proud to be known as the most diverse community in the nation.  The district embraces and implements processes and programs expressly designed to ensure that its staff and all its students enjoy a positive environment in which to teach and learn, and it takes great care handling all personnel concerns to come to fair and just decisions that are in the best interests of all parties."

The school district has 20 days to submit a response to the amended complaint, but Mell is considering whether to ask the court for relief for Wright before a response is submitted.

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