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School reaches settlement in principal's discrimination case

GROVEPORT, Ohio (AP) — A Black assistant principal who lost his job after complaining that his Ohio school’s dress code enforcement discriminated against African-American students would get $200,000 in back pay and damages under a proposed settlement with the district, which denies discriminating or retaliating against him.

In a complaint filed in federal court, former Groveport Madison High School assistant principal Amon-Ra Dobbins said he raised racial bias concerns about school officials enforcing a prohibition on students arriving to school wearing durags on their heads while other dress code violations were ignored. He alleged that he was subsequently disciplined and then not employed by the Groveport Madison Local School District in central Ohio for the following school year because of retaliation.

An investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded Dobbins was “terminated for his race and for protesting what he perceived as … discriminatory treatment,” according to the complaint.

The school board disputes Dobbins’ allegations and denies any unlawful conduct. It said in an emailed statement Friday that settling the case allows it to avoid protracted litigation and focus on educating students.

If approved in federal court, a separate, related consent decree announced this week would require the school district to submit its complaint investigation procedures and policies about discrimination and retaliation for approval, and to train employees on those policies, according the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Per the terms of his settlement, Dobbins is not commenting beyond what’s in the court filings, said his attorney, Chanda Brown.