Friday, February 23, 2018
Education

SPC sued by woman turned down for provost job

ST. PETERSBURG — The president of St. Petersburg College said it was a professional courtesy. A woman who had been turned down for the top job at the college's downtown campus had filed a gender discrimination complaint; Bill Law decided to tell her current employer and all her references what she had done.

"I would certainly want to know if any of my senior employees was involved in a legal matter that could affect the college," Law wrote in a letter to Sherri Davis' boss.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw Law's actions differently. The commission ruled in January that Law was retaliating against Davis, the academic dean at Lawson State Community College in Alabama, for speaking out about possible discrimination.

"It is likely that a reasonable person would be chilled and dissuaded from engaging in protected activity if their current employer and professional references were notified," Georgia Marchbanks, director of the EEOC's Tampa office, wrote in the ruling.

Now, Davis is suing Law and SPC's board of trustees for both retaliation and discrimination, seeking the provost position at the downtown campus, back pay and benefits, and other compensation. The lawsuit was filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

The equal employment commission did not find evidence of gender discrimination. Law faces no penalty from the EEOC for the retaliation ruling, but the finding could aid Davis in her legal case.

Davis did not receive permission from her attorneys to speak to the press in time to comment for this story.

The provost job went to Kevin Gordon, who was the principal of Gibbs High School at the time he was hired in late 2011. He holds a master's degree in educational leadership and, at the time of his hire, was nearly done with a doctorate in the same field from the University of South Florida.

According to Davis' LinkedIn page, she was a principal with Birmingham Public Schools before coming to Lawson State Community College. She holds a master's in education from Cambridge College and a doctorate degree in education administration and supervision from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Wilma Norton, a spokeswoman for SPC, said the college "is not in a position to comment on the lawsuit at this time."

Contact Lisa Gartner at [email protected] You can also follow her on Twitter (@lisagartner).

Comments
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored...
Published: 02/22/18
Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

With high school students from Parkland in the Capitol this week advocating for gun control, the bill that would have allowed superintendents and principals to designate trained employees who can carry concealed weapons at school didn’t get heard as ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

When students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time next Tuesday, they will be greeted by additional counselors and law enforcement."There will be a plethora of counselors and services at the school," Broward Schools Superintende...
Published: 02/21/18
School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears to have been in line for a sizable inheritance. He’ll never get to spend it — except perhaps on defense attorneys.The amount could be enough to compel a judge to order him to hire a private lawyer, rather ...
Published: 02/21/18
Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

DADE CITY — A Pasco High School student was taken into custody Tuesday amid accusations of threatening violence against the school. The campus was not at risk, school district officials said. But they made clear they take each threat seriously, and t...
Published: 02/21/18
Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

LARGO — An Illinois teacher used confrontation. A campus safety monitor in Seattle attacked with pepper spray and physical force. An assistant football coach in Indiana shouted as he chased him into the woods.All were civilians who took down an activ...
Published: 02/20/18
Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

LARGO — Pinellas County School Board members are not happy about the prospect of having to hand over academic control at three struggling schools to a private company, and paying the firm up to $2 million on top of it. But that’s the course they must...
Published: 02/20/18
Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

The parents of Andrew Coffey, the Florida State University student who died from alcohol poisoning after an apparent hazing episode last year, have sued the national Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and nine of its members for their son’s death.Coffey, who wa...
Published: 02/20/18
Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Schools nationwide are on heightened alert in the wake of last week’s fatal shootings in Broward County, and in the Tampa area, that means official warnings about social media posts and more calls for police action.Two Tampa boys, one 15 and one 16, ...
Published: 02/20/18