A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a Black former track coach for a Connecticut high school alleges that his firing was an act of retaliation for telling police that a student spat on him last year.
The Hartford Courant reports that Lorenzo Milledge believes he was unfairly disciplined by administrators at the majority-white Simsbury High School. In the suit, Milledge’s argued the school was “not ready” for a Black head coach.
More from the Courant:
The suit contends Milledge’s problems began in February 2020, when a student “spit on him at a sporting event and poured water on him after spitting in it.”
The suit claims the principal and athletic director did not take severe disciplinary action against the student. Milledge complained to police, and said Neil Sullivan, the school’s human resources director, became angry at him for doing that.
“Plaintiff believes that Mr. Sullivan retaliated against him for calling the police on the student who engaged in a dangerous, discriminatory, offensive, health-threatening assault,” the suit contends. “Had the situation been reversed, complainant would certainly have been terminated for his actions and criminally charged.”
Police on Friday did not say what became of Milledge’s complaint, but the suit says educators ultimately gave the student in-school suspension.
According to the Courant, the father of a female runner on the school’s relay team later accused Milledge of inappropriately touching his daughter. Milledge denies that this happened and alleged that the student and her father were upset that he wouldn’t let her run three back-to-back relays at a championship.
Per the Courant:
Milledge contends the school’s athletic director confronted him about the accusation in front of students, and then broadcast a message about the accusation that staff members overheard.
“This overt humiliation and attempt to stereotype plaintiff started because he would not allow a student to spit on him and disrespect him in front of hundreds of other students,” the suit claims.
The Courant reports that millage was ultimately stripped of his position as head coach of the track team due to the student’s accusation, but he was still allowed to work at the school as a security guard.
His attorney considers this proof that the school’s administration didn’t believe the accusation and was simply looking for a reason to fire him:
“If plaintiff was such a danger to children, why was he allowed to remain in the position as security guard where he comes into contact with these same children?,” the suit asks.
Matt Curtis, superintendent of Simsbury Public Schools, told the newspaper that the district tried to resolve the conflict with Milledge with the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
As you may have noticed by now, that approach didn’t quite pan out.