An assistant elementary school principal has filed suit against the Inglewood Unified School District alleging that he was passed over for promotion because he is a white man.
Sheldon Silverman, 50, an assistant principal at Oak Street Elementary for nine years, is seeking a federal court order to force the district, in which 97% of the students are from minority groups, to promote him to principal at one of its schools. Silverman has applied six times for principal openings in the district and has been rejected each time, according to the lawsuit.
"It's my impression that the district leans pretty heavily towards women and pretty much towards blacks," said Lawrence Steinberg, Silverman's attorney. "From our point of view, my client has a wonderful record and wonderful community support. I don't want to make it seem like the people who were hired are monsters. Its just that my client's qualifications are superior."
"I've done everything there is to do as an acting principal," Silverman said Wednesday. "I've even run the school by myself."
The suit alleges that Silverman's age and the fact that he is Jewish also have been factors in the discrimination. He has received excellent job performance reports, his attorney said.
District Supt. Rex Fortune said he had not seen the lawsuit, which was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, and that he could not comment on details of the case.
"Speaking generally, we make every effort to be fair in our hiring practices," he said. "We do not discriminate against anybody."
Of the 13 elementary schools in the district, 12 have women principals and the other is a black man. Of the 12 women, one is Asian, six are black and five are white, according to district officials.
Steinberg argued that the district should not automatically promote women and blacks as principals because most of the students are from minority groups. The district says 56% of its students are black, 40% Latino, 3% Anglo and 1% Asian.
"A lot of times districts will say we can't get any whites to apply for these jobs," he said. "In other places where whites are in the majority, the opposite is true. They say they can't get any blacks to apply. But in this case we have a serious-minded white person who wants the job very badly and has proven he is capable of doing the job."
No hearing date has been set on the suit.