A former Decatur High School employee whose son was caught on video using racial slurs is suing the district and two of its officials, alleging discrimination and retaliation.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Tuesday, involves actions that occurred following the release of the video on social media in May 2020. The video shows a white student — later identified as her son — wielding a toy gun as he used racial slurs and mentioned shooting Black people.
The employee, Cheryl Nahmias, was initially placed on leave after she defended her son, and later put on “special assignment” in the district’s central office, where she still works, according to the 82-page lawsuit. She is asking to be reinstated to the administrative role she was removed from — the high school’s international baccalaureate coordinator and instructional coach.
A City Schools of Decatur spokeswoman said the district cannot comment on pending litigation. She said the district denies the allegations, adding that their legal counsel will be filing an answer and defenses in court.
After the video became public last year, Decatur schools superintendent David Dude confirmed in a Facebook post that the student was a 14-year-old freshman at the city’s high school.
Decatur students called for the expulsion of the student, who is also the nephew of a Georgia Supreme Court justice.
Nahmias previously wrote in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her son “was not making a threat but was inexcusably trying to parody people who make such threats.”
The lawsuit stated that school officials disciplined and demoted Nahmias, who is white, “based upon her race and her association with her son because of his race, rather than because of a legitimate justification.”
District employees, the lawsuit alleges, filed “a frivolous complaint” against Nahmias to argue her leadership allowed the sort of “covert racism and elitism” that was illustrated in the video.
The lawsuit criticizes Dude and assistant superintendent Maggie Fehrman after she defended her son once the video became public.
“David Dude and Maggie Fehrman targeted Dr. Nahmias, restricted her communications with colleagues and students, subjected her to a five-months-long sham investigation and fishing expedition, and then in retaliation for her advocacy for herself, her son and prior history of whistleblowing activity, ultimately demoted her for groundless, pre-textual reasons,” the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit said Decatur demoted Nahmias for emailing student data to herself. It also alleges the district did not take action against any other employee for violating her minor son’s privacy when they publicly posted his information on Facebook.
In addition to reinstatement to her former position, Nahmias is seeking a financial award for damages.
Zachary Hansen contributed to this report.