Ex-teacher appeals dismissal of bias suit against Butte district

2013-06-19T01:00:00Z Ex-teacher appeals dismissal of bias suit against Butte districtBy Renata Birkenbuel of The Montana Standard Montana Standard

Former district teacher Sherry Carlson has filed an appeal following the Montana Human Rights Commission dismissal of a discrimination grievance that Carlson filed against the Butte school district last winter.

“I want justice and I want honesty, and obviously I haven’t received that at all from the district and the Human Rights Commission,” said Carlson after filing the mandatory paperwork for the appeal process with the commission on Tuesday. “I am in shock with what I read.”

After having qualified for at least six interviews for various teaching positions with the district between 2005 to 2012, Carlson, a Butte native, accused the school board of various biases that have completely stalled her career.

Her original grievance and follow-up rebuttal to the district’s official response include key issues of age discrimination, job discrimination and nepotism within the district.

“It’s very political,” said Carlson, who received a master’s degree in special education in 2010 while recording a perfect 4.0 grade point average. “There’s a lot of nepotism here. To do what I do, no one’s done it before.”

The school district’s next step is to talk to its attorney “to see what the appeal is to take it to court,” said Ann Boston, board chairman. “I agree with the findings of the Human Rights Commission that there is no discrimination.”

In a June 13 letter to Carlson, the Human Rights Bureau — an agency of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry — ruled that it “found no reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred,” as determined by lead investigator Marieke Beck, bureau chief.

Carlson said she plans to appeal in district court, as well. The Human Rights Bureau letter states that she has 90 days to file such proceedings.

In addition, Carlson has the right to request an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission review of the “no reasonable cause” finding with 15 days of receipt of the letter from the Human Rights Bureau.

Carlson was employed as a full-time third-grade classroom teacher at Hillcrest Elementary during the 2007-2008 school year, when she replaced Kathy Cannon, who was reinstated as the district’s special education director.

Since that time, the district interviewed Carlson for various open jobs within the district, including counseling, reading, special education/Title I and K-8 positions.

— Reporter Renata Birkenbuel may be reached via email at

Renata.birkenbuel@lee.net

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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