Former Decatur school district employees file lawsuits over pay issues

Decatur Superintendent David Dude. Courtesy City Schools of Decatur (Courtesy photo)
Decatur Superintendent David Dude. Courtesy City Schools of Decatur (Courtesy photo)

Two former employees for the City Schools of Decatur are suing the district and some of its officials, alleging retaliation and unpaid overtime wages in separate cases.

The most recent lawsuit, filed this month, alleges Decatur superintendent David Dude violated the district’s severance and non-disparagement agreement with David Adams, its former chief human resources officer, when Dude told the Decaturish.com blog that district employees complained about Adams’ job performance.

A City Schools of Decatur spokeswoman said the district denies the allegations and cannot comment on any pending litigation.

Adams was employed by the district for nearly five years until he resigned in 2019. The lawsuit alleges that Dude’s comments were made in retaliation for Adams reporting Dude’s “financially unethical conduct.”

Dude, who was hired in 2015, receives a base salary of $219,000. He’s eligible for bonuses of up to $20,000 a year.

ExploreMore stories about Dekalb area schools

The lawsuit alleges that Susan Hurst, the district’s former chief financial officer, told Adams in 2017 that the school board was providing “an improper salary increase” to Dude by reimbursing the superintendent for expenses without receipts. She also said Dude was underreporting his time off.

When Adams reported Dude’s actions to the district attorney, the lawsuit alleges Dude scheduled a meeting with Adams that ultimately ended with the superintendent expressing plans to ask for Hurst’s resignation.

Dude, the lawsuit stated, also told Adams that complaints were shared about the human resources officer. The lawsuit alleges Adams and Hurst were later set to resign after they reported Dude’s actions.

Decatur agreed to a non-disparagement clause as part of Adams’ resignation, but Dude went on to tell Decaturish.com that employees “felt like they weren’t being supported” by Adams.

“Subsequent to Dr. Dude’s disparaging statement, Mr. Adams inexplicably did not receive callbacks after successful interviews,” the lawsuit stated.

Adams wants a financial award for damages and a court order prohibiting Dude and the district “from engaging in unlawful employment practices.”

Attorney Anita Bala, who represents Adams, is also representing another employee who is suing Dude and the district. The latter lawsuit involves Cheryl Nahmias, who alleges Dude demoted her in retaliation over a video of her son using racial slurs.

In an unrelated case, a former Decatur school janitor in November also sued the district and two of its employees for unpaid overtime.

Attorney David Cheng told the AJC that Shutoku Shia served as a custodian for years in the district, where he was paid to clean one school a day. At some point, Calvin David, a district supervisory employee, asked Shia to help clean at two schools daily with the promise of overtime pay, Cheng said.

But when Shia submitted his overtime log to Noel Maloof, who was the district’s operations director at the time, Cheng said Maloof denied Shia’s overtime pay.

“In a case like this, I would except the City Schools of Decatur to probably come up with the damages since we’re only asking for $2,400,” Cheng said.

The lawsuit alleges Shia had a school principal intervene to get him to stop cleaning two schools daily, but Maloof ignored the request. Shia was eventually relieved of his extra duties after the principal reported it to Dude.

Maloof left the district in 2020 to become deputy chief operations officer for the DeKalb County School District.

In Other News