An investigation by the Florida Commission on Human Relations into the termination of Stephen Shelton by the School Board of Leon County concluded that the School Board’s “stated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its employment decision are pretextual. Therefore, the charge of unlawful age discrimination is found to meritorious.”
Pretextual generally refers to a reason for an action which is false, and offered to cover up true motives or intentions.
The complainant, Shelton, alleged that School Board’s newly elected Superintendent, Rocky Hanna, discriminated against him by not renewing his employment contract based on age and in retaliation for his friendship and support of former Superintendent Jackie Pons. Mr. Shelton was Director of Maintenance.
The School Board denied the retaliation charge and the allegation was not addressed in the investigation due to the Commission’s lack of jurisdiction.
The School Board stated that Shelton’s contract was not renewed because he did not meet expectations as a leader and a manager.
However, Shelton rebutted these argument by stating that his performance evaluations during his 10-year employment met or exceeded expectations.
Records show that Shelton received an “Exceeded Expectations” for “supervisory behavior” for the 2015-16 school year.
Also, his direct supervisor, Mr. Youngblood wrote that Shelton’s “knowledge, experience and professional commitment stands out” in providing the “best support service possible.”
Mr. Youngblood also stated he had not been consulted or advised about Shelton’s termination and that he had high regards for Shelton’s performance as the Director of Maintenance.
After an investigation, the Florida Commission on Human Relations notified the School Board and Mr. Shelton on August 24th, 2018 that “there is reasonable cause to believe that an unlawful practice occurred.”
Mr. Shelton has 35 days from the date of the letter to request a hearing with the Division of Administrative Hearings and has one year to file a civil action in the court of law.
TR has contacted the Leon School Board and will update the story when warranted.