Black Ex-employee Sues Rockwood for Discrimination
Brittany Hogan, the former Director of Educational Equity and Diversity at Rockwood School District, filed a lawsuit in February 2021, alleging that she was subjected to racial abuse by parents and that the administration ignored her complaints. Hogan served the district for eight school years but resigned in April 2021.
The lawsuit claims that Hogan received threatening messages through various channels, including email, phone, and social media, after promoting an anti-racism book called “Stamped” in December 2020. While the book was part of the district’s One Read program, Hogan did not choose it. District officials brought her in to discuss ways to promote the book, but Hogan faced backlash as a result.
The suit said Hogan began receiving racist messages through the district’s Twitter account, with one message saying Hogan and another Black Rockwood official should “work at a different school district where the students were Black.”
In January 2021, Hogan and her secretary began receiving threatening and profane phone calls and email messages, the suit said. One caller demanded that Hogan’s secretary disclose Hogan’s physical location. An email from a parent read, “I hope you sleep well at night …” which the lawsuit claims implied that Hogan might not be safe at night.
The lawsuit said Hogan’s secretary notified administrators about the threatening messages. It also said administrators took no action to protect Hogan, who at the time worked at an unsecured building near one of the district’s middle schools that made her vulnerable to possible altercations.
In February, a human resource employee told Hogan in a telephone call that things had become “out of control.” Still, the lawsuit said she received no assistance or written response.
On Feb. 4, 2021, Hogan emailed her supervisors to tell them she would not participate in the scheduled Feb. 10, 2021, reading of “Stamped” on Zoom with the community. In the email, she said she was being “trolled,” or harassed, by white supremacists on the Twitter diversity account, according to the lawsuit.
She also wrote in that email, “As the only Black woman in district leadership, I am concerned and uncomfortable of how quickly I’ve become the scapegoat of white rage,” the lawsuit said.
During a superintendent’s cabinet meeting in the first week of February 2021, copies of the threats Hogan had received on Twitter were given to every cabinet member. The lawsuit said the only action taken was on Feb. 8, 2021, when then-Superintendent Mark Miles told Hogan to block Twitter accounts harassing her.
Hogan’s lawsuit against the district alleges that they violated her rights by allowing race-based discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The case lists several incidents throughout the 2020-2021 school year, supposedly demonstrating that Rockwood officials sidelined Hogan, making it impossible for her to perform her job effectively. The lawsuit claims the district created a hostile work environment, leading to Hogan’s constructive discharge.
Following the lawsuit, the Rockwood School District settled for $175,000 through an insurance policy, which included attorney fees and other costs. Hogan’s attorney, Javad Khazaeli, expressed Hogan’s desire to move on from the situation and focus on future endeavors.