DeKalb schools to pay $750,000 to settle lawsuit with superintendent finalist

Rudy Crew was a finalist for superintendent of the DeKalb County School District in 2020. (AJC file photo)

Rudy Crew was a finalist for superintendent of the DeKalb County School District in 2020. (AJC file photo)

The DeKalb County School District will pay $750,000 to settle a lawsuit filed last year by a rejected superintendent candidate who said he was discriminated against because of his age and race.

Board of education members recently approved the settlement agreement with Rudy Crew, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Crew was president of Medgar Evers College before abruptly resigning his post in February.

“I’m grateful that everybody involved in the dispute can put it behind them and move forward,” said Steven E. Wolfe, Crew’s lawyer.

DeKalb board members voted 5-1 to approve the agreement at a March 26 meeting. Marshall Orson voted against the settlement; Allyson Gevertz did not attend.

Board chair Vickie Turner told the AJC that she voted in favor of the settlement because it would “protect our assets.” The original lawsuit sought about $1.5 million in damages.

“I wish Dr. Rudy Crew nothing but the best in his endeavors,” she said.

Board member Diijon DaCosta said he approved the settlement agreement because it was less than half of what Crew was originally seeking.

“It brings some closure and allows us to focus more on the importance of our scholars,” he said.

Last April, the school board announced that Crew was the sole superintendent finalist. Several board members spoke glowingly of Crew’s resume and what he could bring to the district.

But in a surprise move, the board voted 4-3 last May not to offer Crew a contract. Eventually, it hired Cheryl Watson-Harris, formerly the first-deputy chancellor for the New York City Department of Education, who was sworn in as superintendent last summer.

Crew, who was 69 at the time when the suit was filed, alleged board members made “ageist” remarks to him and to constituents in favor of younger candidates. The suit also named board member Joyce Morley as a defendant and accused her of disparaging him because his late wife was white. Both Crew and Morley are Black.

The suit claimed Morley undermined Crew’s selection out of “racial animus and suspicion” toward the white board members who supported him. Morley did not immediately return calls for comment, but denied the allegations in court documents.