Former Ann Arbor Principal Shannon Blick Sues District for $5 Million for Reverse Racism After Being Terminated

A former elementary-school principal at Lawton Elementary in Ann Arbor, Mich, has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the suburban Detroit school district over allegations of “reverse racism.”  Shannon Blick, a 39-year old white woman, made the allegations in a 35-page suit filed in the Michigan Eastern District Court on July 20.

The lawsuit purported racial discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and humiliation before her termination on April 26, 2019. She had been the principal at the school since 2013.

Read the lawsuit here.

Blick stated she noticed a change in the way district leaders treated her after they hired Taneia Giles. Giles, a Black woman, was the new assistant principal at Lawton Elementary. The former principal named Giles as a co-defendant in the lawsuit along with the school board members, Superintendent Jeanice Swift, and  Dawn Linden- the Executive Director of Elementary Education for Ann Arbor Public Schools.

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She alleged that Linden advised her Giles was hired as the new assistant principal without having to undergo the formal interview process. The district didn’t want to lose any more minority administrators, according to Linden. Giles took the job at Lawton Elementary School after reporting offensive behavior at another school within the district where she had been working. Although this hasn’t been confirmed, it would appear that Blick included Giles, who had been allegedly targeted for whistleblowing, in the lawsuit when she may have been a victim.

The irony of the reverse racism lawsuit is Linden and Swift are white women who Blick said forced her from her job. She also accused district leaders of “notoriously inhibiting and stepping on the civil rights of Caucasian and non-minority administrators when African American and minority administrators covet Caucasian and non-minority administrators’ legitimately earned and obtained positions, seniority, pay, jobs or duties.”

She became the principal at the school in 2013. Her attorney maintained that her professional career was pristine, and she had an excellent reputation. There was “the complete absence of any warnings, disciplines, suspensions, complaints, write-ups, grievances, charges, or negative employment actions of any type.”

According to reports in the Detroit Free Press, Blick’s attorney, William Tishkoff, stated: “White people have rights. So yeah, this is a reverse (discrimination) case. Right now, it’s very timely in terms of what’s happening in our country.”

The lawsuit, which has Shannon Blick seeking $5 million in damages, also alleged that she was banned from attending school-board meetings although Blick’s three children attended the school as well. Blick even says she was kept from attending her child’s fifth-grade graduation. Blick hopes her lawsuit will reinstate her as principal at Lawton Elementary as well as give her compensatory damages for lost wages, as well as emotional and mental distress.

Read the district’s school board policy here.

The racial makeup of students at the school for the 2016-2017 school year was 51.8 percent white, 14.6 percent Asian, 14 percent black, 10.8 percent multi-ethnic and 8.5 percent Hispanic, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  The city of Ann Arbor is 72% white with a Black population of about 7%.