Suit filed against board, Ware

By Greg Gelpi

Sondra Languell claims in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that she was fired as secretary for the Clayton County school board because she is white.

According to the suit, Chairwoman Nedra Ware, who is black, fired Languell from her supplemental position as the board secretary that paid her $550 per month. The suit also claims that a less qualified black secretary replaced Languell.

Languell, who is still employed with the school system as a secretary to Assistant Superintendent Lynda Daniel, referred all questions about the suit to her attorney Kevin Hooks, who also declined to comment.

About two years ago, Languell began working as the board's secretary. Ware asked her to resign Feb. 20 of this year without explanation, the lawsuit states.

"They need not give any reason for the firing of a non-classified employee," board attorney Gary Sams said.

As a matter of school system policy, all employees are hired and fired by the school board on recommendation of the system's superintendent, Sams said. Interim Superintendent William Chavis couldn't be reached for comment.

Coregis Insurance Co., the school system's insurance provider, will assign its own lawyers to handle the case.

The school system is sued a "handful" of times each year, Sams said, primarily regarding school bus accidents.

The suit is seeking compensation for lost pay, $550 per month for every month since she was forced to resign, as well as punitive damages, mental and emotional suffering and attorney's fees. It names Ware in her capacity as chairwoman and individually as well as the Board of Education and the school system.

The board must issue a response to the lawsuit in 20 days.