In her complaint, former Marietta Student Life Center director Sarah Barbour claims that, after raising complaints about intradepartmental mismanagement, she was accused of “having a problem with Black women.”
A white Georgia woman has filed a federal lawsuit against Marietta City Schools, claiming that the Atlanta-area district subjected her to intense racial discrimination and unlawful retaliation.
According to Atlanta News First, the lawsuit was filed late last week on behalf of plaintiff Sarah Barbour, the director of the Marietta Student Life Center. In her complaint, Barbour claims that the Marietta Board of Board of Education slashed her budget and cut back her programming because some of its “right-leaning” members do not approve of her support for LGBT students.
Attorneys for Barbour claim that, within months of accepting her position with the district, Barbour “discovered that one of the programs run by [the Marietta Student Life Center]” had been mismanaged by her predecessor. She reported the alleged mismanagement, which prompted an audit.
Later, in August of 2022, Marietta City Schools hired a new chief human resources officer, Dr. DeMarco Holland, who “became closer” with Barbour’s predecessor, Dr. Rona Roberts.
Both Roberts and Holland, the lawsuit emphasizes, are African-American.
Conflict eventually erupted between Barbour, Roberts, and Holland, whereafter Barbour agreed to adhere to certain “communication protocols.”
Roberts, though, refused to adopt the same protocols, “since Dr. Holland was friendly to [Roberts] and would not hold [Roberts] accountable.”
During another meeting, Holland allegedly pulled Barbour aside and accused her of “having a problem with Black women,” a claim that Barbour “vigorously protested.”
However, despite Barbour’s protests, Holland told her to “be quiet and not argue with him.”
Shortly thereafter, Barbour received a significantly lower score on her year-end evaluation, particularly with respect to a “Category based on a race-related complaint from a Black employee that was deemed unfounded.”
Barbour, who observed that the complaint had already been resolved and found lacking merit, asked for her rating to be amended—only for Holland to tell her that she should not come to his office uninvited, and that she should have “anticipated [the complaint] being made,” irrespective of its outcome.
Barbour’s role within the district was then quickly reduced, with “Defendants gradually … eliminating her duties and responsibilities in her current position, and eliminating aspects of the programming that [the Marietta Student Life Center] offers, in anticipation of eliminating her position at the end of the year.”
The lawsuit suggests that, after Barbour “attempted to file an internal grievance against Defendant Holland,” the district responded by placing Holland and Holland’s subordinates in charge of the resulting investigation. In the meantime, Holland purportedly “made unsolicited inquiries to, and tried to recruit, Black employees … regarding whether they felt Ms. Barbour harbored racial bias.”
Barbour and her attorneys also say that, amidst this alleged discrimination, Marietta City Schools progressively chipped away at the Student Life Center’s mental health services, especially those services offered to LGBT students.
The complaint seeks compensation for damages including “diminished job responsibilities and prestige, reputational harm, stress and humiliation.” It requests a trial by jury and any other relief the court may deem proper.