MACE Contends Teacher in Gwinnett Treated in Racist Manner by Supervisor!
MACE Counsel Ramay fires off scorching letter to glib Gwinnett Schools attorney!  (MACE has changed the names of people actually involved in the incident!)



July 28, 2006



Victoria Sweeny, Attorney

Thompson & Sweeny, P.C.

Longleaf Commons

690 Longleaf DR

Lawrenceville, GA  30045



     RE:  Your Letter of July 11, 2006, referenced “Your Client [sic] Tyrone Jones


 Dear Ms. Sweeny:


     First, it is my sad duty to inform you that Attorney William Woods, with whom you originally corresponded, has died.  I will now be the legal representative of Tyrone Jones.


     Second, I find it incredible that you would support the placement of Principal Smith’s “memorandum of warning from the principal” in my client’s personnel file, especially considering your rationale:  “The witnesses to this matter support the proposition that Mr. Jones raised his voice to Ms. Lemons.  Although, [sic] there is conflict over the threatening nature of his behavior, Ms. Lemons is in the best position to know whether or not [sic] Mr. Jones’s behavior frightened her.”  I find your use of the word “conflict” quite interesting.  Its use indicates that no definitive reality exists to verify Ms. Lemons’ fantasy of being “frightened” by a black man.  (Ms. Lemons is white.)  Its use also indicates an apparent mind-set among Gwinnett County School officials and their functionaries, of which you are one, of acceptance of a level of hostility within the District’s schools.  That saddens me because, if you carefully read Ms. Lemons’ statement of May 25, 2006, she states unequivocally:  “Tyrone came out of Jamila’s classroom, followed me to the workroom [sic] and acted like nothing happened [sic].”  As I quoted you earlier, you wrote:  “.  . . Ms. Lemons is in the best position to know whether or not [sic] Mr. Jones’s behavior frightened her.”  I retort that, conversely, Mr. Jones is in the best position to know whether he meant to frighten Ms. Lemons.  He did not and wrote in his statement of May 25, 2006:  “Before I could reply that I had been to her office, she [Ms. Lemons] threw my verification forms in my direction on the table.  I told her that she did not have to throw the forms and that was rude.  She replied that she didn’t throw them and I replied that she had.  This exchange continued for less than thirty seconds and we both left the room.”  Clearly, there would have been no incident had Ms. Lemons conducted herself in a professional manner, something to which Ms. Lowe , a teacher who witnessed some of the interaction between Ms. Lemons and Mr. Jones, attested in her statement of May 25, 2006:  “. . . [Ms. Lemons] ‘threw’ Tyrone’s Grade Verification sheets towards him.  In a loud angry sounding voice, Tyrone said, ‘Don’t throw anything at me.’  In an equally loud angry sounding voice, Mary [Lemons] said, ‘I didn’t throw it at you.’”  Ms. Lemons, as department chair, has a quasi-supervisory role over Mr. Jones.  In that capacity, Ms. Lemons must comport herself in a professional manner when she deals with those over whom she has this quasi-supervision.  She did not, and this is underscored in another statement from another teacher who says she witnessed some of the interaction between Ms. Lemons and Mr. Jones.  In a letter to Principal Smith, dated May 31, 2006, Candice Hillary wrote:  “I heard shouting.  I recognized the voice as that of Mr. Tyron [sic] Jones.  As I got closer to my classroom door, I heard Mr. Jones shout what I recall to be the following words:  ‘Don’t come at me with that. . . get some people skills.’”  Ms. Hillary’s statements obviously indicate that Mr. Jones had been provoked by someone.  That someone, Ms. Lemons, should have known better than to act in such a capricious manner so as to affect a person over whom she exercised a quasi-supervisory role in such a negative manner.  You wrote that Ms. Lemons “is in the best position to know whether or not [sic] Mr. Jones’s behavior frightened her.”  Well, again I counter that Mr. Jones, as the three statements indicate, was in the best position to know that Ms. Lemons had treated with him unprofessionally and had every right to tell her of his feelings at that very moment.  As Ms. Lemons wrote, after Mr. Jones informed her of how he felt about her handling of the situation, he “acted like nothing had happened.”  Ms. Lemons then ran to Principal Smith and, as she wrote in her statement, “told him what happened [sic].”  Ms. Lemons, however, compounded her unprofessional actions against Mr. Jones by reporting her account of the events to Principal Smith in front of another of Mr. Jones’s colleagues:  “Ms [sic] Joyce Baer was also in Mr. Smith’s office when I reported the incident.”


     Third, quite frankly, if anyone deserves to receive a “memorandum of warning from the principal,” it is Ms. Lemons for failing to act in a professional manner.  I would describe her actions as racist in that she, a white woman in a power position over a black man, Mr. Jones, who “frightened” her when he refused to accept her unprofessional treatment of him in front of a black female colleague, made full use of the stereotypical demonized black man when she ran to the white male principal who, accepting the hysterical rant about the demonized black man, endeavored to shackle him by penning the “memorandum of warning.”  Please!  This is 2006, and slavery days are long gone, except, perhaps, in the Gwinnett County School District.  Ms. Lemons’ subsequent behavior, as documented in yet another statement she produced on May 25, 2006, underscores just how condescending she is to black staff members in her quasi-supervisory role as department chair:  “On Thursday afternoon, May 25, 2006 [sic] Jamila Lowe entered my office and began to ask me a series of questions related to her teaching assignment for the Fall of 2006.  I answered her questions.  Then she said, ‘I need to tell you.’  I interrupted her and said, ‘Jamila, if this has anything to do with the situation you witnessed this morning I cannot discuss it with you’. [sic]  She then said [sic] ‘ [sic] Oh, this is off the record’. [sic]  I told her ‘nothing is off the record , [sic] please [sic] do not continue trying to talk to me about the matter [sic] it [sic] is not appropriate.’  Jamila ignored my request to stop talking about the matter.  Jamila then said, ‘You need to know that when Ms. Poland asked me about the matter I did not support your statement.  I told her that I did not think that you were in Physical [sic] danger from Tyrone.’  I did not say anything.  Jamila got up and left my office.”  Ms. Lemons apparently wants the black folk who work under her to jump and bow and scrape when she wants them to obey her; however, she will not make a simple effort even to listen to a black person when he or she merely wants to voice concern about her actions.  Had Ms. Lemons acted in a professional manner without an underlying stereotypical racist opinion of black folk, none of this would be necessary.  Ms. Lemons should be the one under the whip, not Mr. Jones.


     Fourth, I take extreme offense at your fourth paragraph:  “In the future, if Mr. Jones has a concern about the manner in which he is treated by anyone at This Gwinnett High School, he is encouraged to take those concerns to the assistant principal of his scholastic area or to the principal rather than display anger toward a colleague.”  Mr. Jones did not “display anger toward a colleague.”  As has been shown, Mr. Jones reacted in an acceptable manner when his white female quasi-supervisor displayed anger toward him by throwing papers at him in front of his black female colleague, thus not only diminishing him professionally but also demeaning him personally in a racist manner.  You then cite “Policy GAE” and glibly cite “the policy of the Gwinnett County Board of Education that all employees be treated fairly regardless of race, color, national origin, disability, gender, age, or religion.”  You provide a contact name and number, “Joyce Spraggs, Director of Internal Resolution [sic] at 678.301.6062.”  I would think that the Gwinnett County School District would prefer resolution of this without involvement of “Joyce Spraggs” or employment of “Policy GAE,” much less the involvement of the Professional Standards Commission, the Gwinnett Chapter of the NAACP, and/or the courts.  What has happened to Mr. Jones is unacceptable, wrong, and patently racist.  Ms. Lemons and Principal Smith, at least, should be required to undergo diversity training, and Ms. Lemons, at the very least, should be required to undergo training in interpersonal communication and professional ethics. 


     Finally, all I merely seek is for the “memorandum of warning from the principal” that was placed in Mr. Jones’s personnel file to be removed and that he not suffer any retaliation for having involved either Attorney Woods or me in seeking its removal. 







                                                                        J. Anderson Ramay, Jr., Esq.




Copy:  Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks

          Mr. Tyrone Jones

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