Missouri district pays $275,000 to settle race discrimination lawsuit

Jan. 28, 2021
Danielle Nixon contended in the suit that the Lee's Summit district declined to hire her as director of communications because she is Black.

A Black woman has received a $275,000 settlement from the Lee’s Summit (Mo.) school district after contending in a lawsuit that she was denied a job because of her race.

The Kansas City Star reports that Danielle Nixon said she wasn’t chosen as the director of communications for the predominantly white district in the suburbs of Kansas City because the former superintendent, who also is Black, had concerns about her race.

The job, which had been held for many years by a white woman, was filled in 2018 by Kelly Wachel, who is white. Wachel left the district the following year and is now chief marketing and communications officer for Kansas City Public Schools.

Nixon said in her lawsuit that then-Superintendent Dennis Carpenter told the district’s selection committee that he would “never hire an African American female for that key role.”

Losing out on the position and later learning that her race was a factor worried Nixon, caused Nixon great stress and she “lost sleep over whether she could pursue her career,” the suit asserted.

Nixon is now the head of communications for the nearby Raytown (Mo.) school district.

The settlement provides $167,939 Nixon and $107,060 to the firm of her attorney, Williams Dirks Dameron.

[From 2019: Lee's Summit superintendent gets $750,000 to  part ways with district]

Carpenter, the Lee's Summit district’s first Black superintendent, resigned in July 2019 after clashing for several months with the then-all-white school board over diversity training. The board agreed to buy Carpenter out of his contract for $750,000. He is now president and CEO of Aspirational Insights Consulting, which focuses on equity.

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