Award-Winning Drama Teacher Sues District For Discrimination

Aug 10, 2017

A drama teacher has sued his North Carolina public school district for racial discrimination in staffing and unfair compensation.

Hillside High School drama teacher Wendell Tabb filed the lawsuit against Durham Public Schools on Wednesday.

The lawsuit says DPS refuses to staff the predominantly black Hillside's award-winning drama program as it does with other schools' programs, forcing Tabb to perform the work of multiple teachers. The lawsuit also says Tabb hasn't been compensated for performing non-program-related duties, despite asking for district assistance since 2004.

Tabb's attorney Stewart Fisher says the district recently hired technical directors at three other schools with similar theatre programs.

"But despite Mr. Tabb asking for years for them to give him one, they refused to do it, and when he said, 'Well, then you need to pay me the supplement that that person would get for those extracurricular activities,' they refused to do that," Fisher said.

The lawsuit alleges the district's non-compliance stems from a settled 2005 lawsuit Tabb filed saying a special needs therapist taped his child's mouth shut.

DPS spokesman Chip Sudderth didn't comment on the litigation, but says the district has increased extra duty pay.

"While we cannot comment on the specifics of this case, Durham Public Schools has increased extra duty pay for teachers in a way that we believe is fair within the resources available to us," Sudderth said in a statement. "We continue to advocate for increased compensation to teachers who take on additional responsibilities in support of our students and schools."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.