Former administrator files lawsuit against NASD

Published 1:40 am Thursday, April 13, 2017

NATCHEZ —A former administrator in the Natchez-Adams School District filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this week seeking damages for what she contends was her wrongful firing. 

Shannon Doughty filed a federal civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Jackson Monday alleging the district terminated her based on speculation about test scores rather than facts.

In 2015, Doughty filed a similar lawsuit in Adams County Circuit Court. Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders dismissed the lawsuit in 2016 after Sanders determined the case was filed in the wrong jurisdiction.

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The current lawsuit names the district, former district superintendent Frederick Hill and the Mississippi Department of Education as defendants.

Doughty claims that she was wrongfully terminated based on speculation about test scores rather than facts.

The lawsuit also alleges provisions of the Mississippi Department of Education’s employment procedures violate Doughty’s constitutionally protected rights to a fair and impartial hearing after the decision was made to not renew her contract.

Doughty also alleges that the “reason for nonrenewal of her employment was a pretext for racial discrimination that (Doughty) suffered and endured.”

Doughty is white and Hill is black.

Doughty worked for 18 years before she was promoted to assistant principal at Natchez High School for the 2013-2014 academic year. The lawsuit alleges Hill asked her to apply for the position and told Doughty her performance would judged on the results of the statewide school accountability tests.

In February 2014, her supervisor and current NASD Superintendent Fred Butcher, recommended Doughty’s reappointment, but the lawsuit alleges in April 2014 Hill told Doughty she would not be renewed as assistant principal, based on the prediction of a failing grade based on practice tests given earlier in the year.

The district retained Butcher, who the lawsuit says “holds ultimate responsibility for accountability test scores and academic performance and who is African-American.”

The NASD school board ratified the non-renewal of Doughty’s contract in April 2014.

When test results were made public in October 2014, they showed the school had not failed but improved to a passing grade — a “D” rating — during the 2013-2014 school year.

Doughty’s lawsuit seeks relief for damages from lost wages and benefits, mental and emotional distress, lost employment opportunities and damage to Doughty’s reputation and standing in the community.

The lawsuit also seeks to have Doughty “promptly reinstated to her former position as Assistant Principal at Natchez High School, without any threat if reprisal.”

Doughty is currently the assistant principal at Anniston Elementary in Gulfport. She joined the Gulfport School District in June 2014.