By Marsha Thompson - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A former School for the Deaf teacher has won a Federal lawsuit against the State of Mississippi. Melissa Ross filed a racial discrimination lawsuit after she was fired in 2007. Melissa Ross took on the state, claiming she was the victim of racial discrimination at the School for the Deaf in north Jackson.
"It was just a clear racial divide," said Ross.
Her federal lawsuit cited evidence of troubling racial discrimination within the facility and a hostile environment according to her Jackson attorney, Michael Brown.
According to Brown there was also contradictory testimony about Ross' teaching certification.
"The reason claimed by the person who terminated her said she was not certified in the area of family and consumer science. However she was at the time she was terminated."
Ross was fired in the summer of 2007. After she had completed the required certification.
Tuesday a federal verdict in her favor was handed down. The former teacher was awarded over $205,000.
"It has been a very long haul. I'm just glad it's over with," said Ross.
This is not the first time a lawsuit has been filed. The former School for the Deaf Principal, Pamela Hervey claimed she was wrongfully fired based on race in 2006. Hervey was fired along with the school Superintendent only days after a November protest by students about teacher certification.
State Superintendent of education, Dr. Tom Burnham, in a written statement to WLBT News said, "The Mississippi Board of Education and I are aware of the verdict. We are disappointed in the outcome and are weighing our options."
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