Lawsuit funds to fight domestic violence

Bay City Times

Bay City — A former teacher is donating money she received in a settlement with a Michigan charter school to organizations that work to curtail domestic violence.

Mika Yamamoto filed the suit in 2017 against Renaissance Public School Academy, Principal Lisa Bergman and Michigan Educational Personnel Services over alleged First Amendment violations and racial discrimination.

The defendants have denied all claims of wrong-doing. The lawsuit was settled in January and officially dismissed in February.

Yamamoto gave a speech in November about domestic violence and discrimination against women, according to court records. The lawsuit alleged that Yamamoto was suspended following the speech and fired from her position as a fifth-grade teacher in December. Yamamoto is an Asian-American and had been employed at the school since August 2016.

The lawsuit alleged that Bergman informed Yamamoto that the community wasn’t ready for a voice like hers and that she’d be better suited in a larger city.

Yamamoto said she had her attorney, Julie A. Gafkay, donate $30,000 of the $45,000 settlement to A Safe Place, an Illinois-based organization that addresses domestic violence. Saginaw’s Underground Railroad was also given $5,000.

“This goes to the greater good,” Yamamoto said. “(The defendants) can’t really do things to make me whole and money doesn’t really fix that. But if we could do something that helps lives of actual people then there is a return to wholeness. That was our vision — we can make a better world together.”