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Judge denies CPS request to dismiss lawsuit over alleged mistreatment

A Boone County judge denied the Columbia Public Schools request to dismiss a lawsuit against it for alleged mistreatment.

Judge Kevin Crane denied the motion made by CPS and assistant superintendent Dr. Kevin Brown to throw out a lawsuit filed by Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy, a vice principal at Hickman High School, sued after he and his wife, Rachel Henderson, raised several complaints against Brown for comments he made that they considered inappropriate. Henderson also sued CPS and Brown over the situation.

CPS’s attorney argued that McCarthy filed his lawsuit too quickly. The Missouri Commission on Human Rights had not given McCarthy a notice of his right to sue over the allegations made until Oct. 17. McCarthy should have to re-file the lawsuit, the attorney argued.

By re-filing, the lawsuit would be subjected to the new standards for discrimination suits passed by the Missouri General Assembly this year. The change means McCarthy would have to prove CPS and Brown’s actions were a “motivating” factor rather than a “contributing” one, a higher standard.

McCarthy’s attorney, Andrew Hirth, said the MCHR letter was not grounds for the lawsuit to be dismissed. Because the actions took place before the law changed on Aug. 28, the lawsuit should be held to the prior standards.

Brown, the head of secondary education at CPS, allegedly made derogatory comments about female staff members at Battle High School, where McCarthy and Henderson worked, according to the lawsuit. Brown also allegedly said that white parents should not adopt black children, which Hirth said directly applied to McCarthy and Henderson, who have adopted a black child.

McCarthy’s lawsuit claims that the complaints filed against Brown cost him the Hickman High School principal position when it came open in the spring of 2017. While he had more administrative experience than the other candidates for the job, McCarthy claims he was not even given a chance to interview for the spot.

McCarthy was moved from his spot at Battle High School to a similar one at Hickman.

CPS filed a similar motion to dismiss Henderson’s lawsuit. It is set for a hearing in front of Judge Jeff Harris on Nov. 20.

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