CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrea Kane has filed a racial discrimination and retaliation complaint against the county school board.
Kane filed the discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December. Copies of the six-page filing were released Friday, Jan. 15 by Kane’s personal public relations manager John White of JLW Communications.
In the filing, Kane claimed the board “created a hostile work environment on the basis of her race” and made it difficult for her to perform her job duties as superintendent. Kane said she also “witnessed disparaging remarks made towards Black people.”
The Board of Education has been instructed by its attorney not to comment to Kane’s allegations, according to a board member.
In October, Kane took an extended leave of absence due to she said, the Board’s pervasive harassing behavior. Kane said prior to her leave, she informed board members they should refer day to day matters to her, however, she learned from staff members that the staff had been contacted directly by various Board members requesting information on various day-to-day school matters, or to schedule school visits.
During the Oct. 29 board meeting, former Deputy Superintendent Janet Pauls was appointed by the Board to serve as acting superintendent for the duration of Kane’s leave. At that time, Tammy Harper, then board president, said she could not comment on the specifics of Kane’s leave.
Two days prior to Kane’s leave, Kane said Harper amended the Board agenda without Kane’s knowledge to include a discussion about grants, and without notice to herself, voted to prohibit Kane from expending any CARES grant monies or COVID- 19 grants without first notifying the Board. “The Board’s actions violated my statutory rights to exercise control and authority over the operations of the school system,” Kane stated.
EEOC investigates and prosecutes employment discrimination complaints on behalf of workers. The federal agency pursues some discrimination complaints it receives but can also decide not to move forward with others. Kane took the helm at QACPS in 2017 and her contract ends in June. Kane previously announced she would not be seeking a contract extension.
Other complaints made by Kane included not supporting her during the exit of former Chief of Operations Sid Pinder and potentially permanently replacing her with Pauls. Both Kane and Pauls are African American.
The Board, Kane claims, also showed a lack of support for her when during the national discussion on the killing of George Floyd, she sent out an email referencing “Students Talking About Race” to parents of middle and high school students in QACPS.
In the email, Kane said she called for more dialogue on racism in the county and voiced support for Black Lives Matter, stating “[i]t’s encouraging to see Black and White people coming together in nonviolent protests against the mistreatment of and discrimination against Black people and people of color.”
Following the letter, Kane says she received some threatening emails from parents who complained that the introduction of race into the email was “somehow divisive when it was exactly the opposite.”
“I received several threatening complaints from parents in the County. One of the complaints stated that “[m]ake no mistake: All Lives Matter, but to express that brutal racism is undisputed in our community is patently false.” Kane said she worried some of those threatening complaints were coming from those with white supremacist or extreme political views.
Instead of supporting her, Kane said “the Board attacked me and supported the racist actions of extremist groups,” and elsewhere in the claim, “This Board has acquiesced to the white supremacists, racists, and the threats made against me.”
Kane said Harper did suggest she contact law enforcement and ask the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney to investigate the people who were writing the racist Facebook posts on the Kent Island Facebook page. “I informed the Board that I did not have confidence in getting protection from law enforcement because I knew that the Sheriff was part of the Kent Island Patriots,” Kane said referring to a local advocacy group, “She also sent me an email asking if I planned to contact the police. Because of my lack of confidence in law enforcement and the Sheriff, I did not.”
QA Sheriff Gary Hofmann said he was unaware of Kane’s allegations which he called “completely fabricated.”
Hofmann said Kane’s claim “because I read or follow a [Facebook] page is unsubstantiated, and alarming as it pertains to his First Amendment rights.” Hofmann said he follows many community social media pages including a Black Lives Matter page and an LGBTQI group, among many other local pages.
Kane had other options to contact law enforcement with her concern, including Centreville Police, the jurisdiction the Central Office falls to, or the Maryland State Police or FBI, Hofmann said.
“We have always had open lines of communication with Dr. Kane and QACPS,” Hofmann said, noting Kane welcomed his department’s school resource officers and the preventative programs they provided to students, minorities included.
Notwithstanding Kane’s decision not to report the threats, she said the Board still had a responsibility to publicly condemn the attacks, and support her. This lack of a public support has allowed the overt racism to boil over – and that has sadly become the default position of the Board.”
“Outrageous treatment has been constant and continuous,” Kane states at the beginning of her claim, citing alleged vulgarities in text messages she received from a former school member.
The EEOC complaint also references an alleged 2018 incident when Kane said board members drew “horns, a mustache, and a goatee” on a photograph of an African-American teacher.