Former employee takes Ardmore schools to federal court
ARDMORE, Okla. (KTEN) — An Ardmore woman is filing a federal lawsuit against Ardmore City Schools, claiming racial discrimination from her former employer.
Veronica Taylor worked for Lincoln Elementary School as a cafeteria manager. In 2018, she said an employee called her a racial slur, which she reported.
“There's a lot of hatred going on in Ardmore schools," Taylor said. “There's a lot of racial hatred, and somebody needs to say something.”
Taylor is doing just that, by taking her former employer to court.
“I am hoping to be a voice for a change in Ardmore, for many of the African-American employees that work at Ardmore City Schools,” she said.
ACS Superintendent Kim Holland said the district had had a great working relationship with Taylor.
“I’d say the two or three years that I worked with Veronica, she did a good job,” Holland said. “I was not aware of any problems.”
But things began to change in recent years.
“She was ordering some things without going through the proper channels, and I think there were some questions about that,” Holland said.
After reporting the racial slur incident, Taylor alleges that her white coworkers were being paid for a full eight hours of work, while employees of color were being paid for seven-and-a-half.
“When I filed with the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] and attempted to return to work from my [Family and Medical Leave Act], that’s when I was offered a demotion from a manager to a cook,” Taylor said.
The school district disagrees with Taylor's characterization of what happened.
“She was offered another position at the same compensation,” Holland said.
In response to being asked if he feels like Ardmore schools have an issue with race, Holland replied, “I don’t. Never have, never will.”
Holland couldn’t speak much about Taylor's lawsuit, since an outcome has not yet been decided. But he did say discrimination isn’t something Ardmore City schools takes lightly.
“We have to take it serious. We have to figure out, investigate, and find out if there’s an issue,” Holland said.
Taylor is prepared to fight Ardmore schools, even if it costs her everything.
“To lose, I have nothing. Because I've been in this position before where I have literally lost everything... my home, my car... that was 21 years ago,” she said.
The stress brought on by racial threats and termination were almost enough to make her leave Ardmore.
“I originally was packing my home in about to leave, and I got that little whisper from God saying, 'Stay. Stay. I have something for you to do,'” Taylor said.
She said she will find dog feces dropped off on her front porch; she believes it's from people who don’t want her to talk. Taylor said she was originally threatened by it, but now says those things don’t bother her anymore.
When we left Taylor’s home after the interview, dog feces was again on her front walkway. Taylor’s home appears to be completely fenced off.
Taylor said what makes this situation so difficult is that three of her children graduated from Ardmore High School. Her youngest was even a valedictorian for the Class of 2019.
“It was humiliating to me, because he was able to sit and watch this process unfold," Taylor said. "He knew the whole story because he went with me; he knew the stress and the crying and how upset I was because I love my job. I love serving children.”
Taylor said all she wants out of this lawsuit is justice for herself and her family.