White principal sues Ann Arbor district, alleges racial discrimination

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A white elementary school principal is suing the Ann Arbor Public Schools, alleging racial discrimination and a conspiracy by school officials to keep her out of the job to favor black administrators.


Since September 2013, Shannon M. Blick served as principal at Lawton Elementary School, according to a complaint filed Saturday in U.S. District Court.

Then in April, Blick, 39, alleges the district "constructively terminated" her due to her "Caucasian race and because ... an African American coveted" Blick’s position as principal.

Blick's attorneys allege the Ann Arbor school district and its school board have a history of "harboring, and acting on, racial animus towards Caucasians and non-minority individuals"  and have "notoriety" for 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" positions.

The lawsuit says Blick was placed on paid administrative leave in April but has been prohibited from attending school board meetings and special events at Lawton, where her three children attend, including a fifth-grade graduation ceremony where her son was a singer.

The lawsuit alleges the district, school board and six administrators — including superintendent Jeanice Swift — subject white administrators to hostility and harassment in the workplace based on their race; accelerate the promotion and advancement of African-American and minority administrators at the expense and to the detriment of white administrators and refuse to "reasonably and properly investigate" and take remedial action for, “reverse discrimination” workplace complaints.

Andrew Cluley, a spokesman for the Ann Arbor public school district, declined comment on Monday.

"The Ann Arbor Public Schools has not been served with a copy of the complaint. The AAPS does not comment on pending litigation or personnel matters," Cluley said.

Blick, who alleges she was rated "highly effective" as principal while at Lawson, remains listed on the school's website as its principal along with a photograph, biography and education philosophy.

Blick is suing for deprivation her federal employment rights and for racial discrimination in violation of the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act. She also alleges she was denied her freedoms of speech, petition and association. 

Blick is seeking a judgment for $5 million for lost wages and emotional and mental distress.

Blick's attorney, William G. Tishkoff, referred to the lawsuit when asked questions seeking comment on Monday and said the 35-page lawsuit was an "extensively researched complaint."