/Ed Dept official leaving amid discrimination claims

Ed Dept official leaving amid discrimination claims

An allegation of racial and sexual discrimination against him as the Mississippi Department of Education’s top administrator has led to his resignation. J.P. Beaudoin was the chief of research & development and was hired last year by Carey Wright to fill a vacant position within the department. His salary is $158,000. He was a consultant to the department for many years, and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars as the CEO of Research in Action Inc. in Baton Rouge. Melissa Hall, a former employee of the Education Department filed a federal lawsuit in August alleging that she was subject to sex and race discrimination after being fired as a business systems analyst. Hall, an African American female who worked for the department for approximately 11 years, claimed she was replaced by a white man. Jean Cook, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Education, stated that Beaudoin’s departure was “independent of Melissa Hall’s complaint” and that the department is aware of the lawsuit. However, she cannot comment on personnel or litigation matters. Cook stated that Beaudoin will be leaving around the end this month. Beaudoin’s actions are what are being sued, but the Mississippi Department of Education and State Superintendent Carey Wright, as well as other unnamed officials, are listed among the defendants. Hall first filed a U.S. complaint. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate against a job candidate or employee on the basis of race, color or religion. Hall was served with a notice of right-to-sue by the EEOC, which meant that the commission couldn’t determine if the law had been violated. Hall claims Beaudoin created an “racially, sexually hostile work environment.” Beaudoin treated white men more favorably than he did me,” the complaint states. “Upon information, belief, J.P. Beaudoin informed Cerissa Neal (a white female) that MDE needed Amy Daniels, a female of color, fired. This was to stop me (Melissa Hall), from later claiming that I was the victim racial discrimination.” Neal referred her questions to Lisa Ross, her attorney. Daniels, now employed by the Hinds County Schools District, declined to respond when Neal reached her Tuesday. Ross answered the question about whether Neal had had that conversation with Beaudoin. Ross is representing an employee in a separate suit against the department. She said that she knows of two pending EEOC claims against Beaudoin and the department specifically for issues similar those raised by Hall. All of them involve women who were either discharged or demoted illegally. Ross stated that both were based on sex (gender), while one was based on race and sexuality. EEOC is still investigating the complaints, but it does not make public its actions as they relate to personnel matters. Hall claims that the department cited a law passed in the Legislature, exempting it for two years of state regulations regarding personnel actions including firing and hiring. The agency could fire staff without notice or hearing during that time. The complaint states that, “Though facially nondiscriminatory House Bill 454 as applied to the Mississippi Department of Education has been impacted me and other African American women in a discriminatory way.” Cook claims that the Education Department maintained that all personnel decisions made at that time were in compliance with the statute. This law was passed in order to streamline and reorganize the department._x000D