|Marie Lemmon (right) conducts a tour of the brand new Bailey's Upper campus in a converted office building before the start of the school year.|
The lawsuit was filed in federal court Sept. 25 on behalf of former assistant principal Rachel Charlton; former math resource teacher Yolanda Calhoun; her child, J.C. Calhoun, a former student; and Shyrone Stith, a former instructional assistant.
A court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21 on motions filed by FCPS to dismiss the case and, if that motion fails, to split the complaint into three separate lawsuits. The judge could choose to dismiss some of the 29 separate counts against Lemmon and the school board but not others. Fairfax County officials have declined to comment publicly on the case.
The suit alleges that Lemmon directed staff to only hire “pretty young blondes who did not have families and would ‘work for’ her.” Charlton had charged that, after she became pregnant, Lemmon excluded her from critical meetings and refused to make any accommodations when Charlton suffered severe complications. When Charlton returned to work, nearly all her responsibilities were taken away and Lemmon refused to approve her request for a transfer.
Throughout that period Charlton, who is Jewish, says Lemmon gave her a hard time for taking religious leave, while the other two assistant principals were given leave for Christmas shopping without having to make up the time.
Yolanda Calhoun, an African American with a doctorate degree in education, was told her job was being eliminated. After she left, the suit states, Lemmon replaced her with young, blond Caucasian woman who was significantly less qualified. Stith charges he was rejected for a promotion in favor of a less-qualified, young blond woman.
The five people who submitted statements to the court report similar experiences.
Rose Vincent, a 49-year-old Hispanic/American Indian instructional assistant at Bailey’s, said Lemmon discriminated against her “on the basis of race, age, and my association with a person who was disabled.” Vincent also said, “I have been subject to repeated harassment and threats to my employment.”
The statement from former teacher Sharon Baumgartner says Lemmon told staff at a meeting that, if they “are going to get married or have babies, do it on your own time during the summer.” Despite a positive performance history, Baumgartner said Lemmon told her if she didn’t leave voluntarily, Lemmon “would write things in my file which would make it difficult for me to get a job in the future.”
Kathi Newman, a 45-year old former speech pathologist at Bailey’s who is Jewish and has a child with a disability, states that she believes Lemmon “discriminated against me on the basis of my ethnicity, my relationship to a person with disabilities, my age, and my religion.” She said she was replaced with a younger, less-qualified employee.
Michael Penn, an African American who had worked in the FCPS safety and security office, said he and other non-white employees were passed over for promotions in favor of less-qualified Caucasian employees. “I believe that there is a ‘black ceiling’ at FCPS and that racial discrimination is rampant,” he wrote.
Robin Rubio, who worked as a teacher under Lemmon when Lemmon was principal at Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School, said she felt “discriminated against on the basis of my age and my race.” According to Rubio, Lemmon “was routinely condescending and rude. She was negative and critical and made unreasonable demands.”
“I am speaking out,” Rubio wrote, “so others do not have to endure the same discrimination and harassment that I have had to endure under Marie Lemmon.”