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Moreno Valley School District Sued for Discrimination

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Moreno Valley

By Megan Carter

"Settlement talks fail as former administrators and district set for trial"

The trial of the Moreno Valley Unified School District and two former administrators is set to begin on April 1.

The 1999 lawsuit alleges that the former Director of Certificated Personnel Ralph Dudley and former elementary school principal Ralph Edwards were demoted without merit. Both are African American.

Dudley became the District’s Personnel Director in July of 1997 after serving several years as a Principal and Assistant Principal in the Hesperia Unified School District. Within two years, Dudley was given a two-step demotion back to the classroom from being Director of Certificated Personnel.

The lawsuit filed in the Riverside Superior Court alleges discrimination against Dudley by the district and then Superintendent David Andrews and Assistant Superintendent Anita Suazo who made remarks about Dudley dating and subsequently marrying a White female colleague of his.

The suit alleges that Suazo made comments that “Dudley knows this is Moreno Valley and we won’t stand for that” referring to the interracial relationship of Dudley.

The lawsuit also alleges that Anita Suazo retaliated against Dudley for hiring Dr. Kevin Simms a well known civil rights activist in the Inland Empire who had challenged the school board to hire more African American teachers and who accused the school district of racial discrimination. Dudley hired Simms as a teacher and was subsequently demoted by Anita Suazo who had inquired about Dr. Simms being the same person who spoke at the school board.

When Suazo found out who he was, she refused to request the credential needed for Simms to be hired.

Edwards, who was the only African American male elementary principal before his demotion to assistant principal, alleges discrimination and retaliation for continuing to associate with Dudley who Suazo had made it known to everyone that Dudley had fallen out of favor with her.

Suazo’s contract with the district was not renewed by the school board in July 2001. The demotions of Dudley and Edwards were strongly protested by hundreds of parents, students, teachers and other district administrators.

Dudley and Edwards believe that a trial will finally vindicate them and demonstrate how the district discriminates against African Americans.

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