Third lawsuit filed against Eastpointe Community Schools, superintendent

By: Maria Allard | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 22, 2024

 Eastpointe Community Schools and district Superintendent Christina Gibson, pictured, have been named in a lawsuit by a former employee who says she was discriminated against because of her race.

Eastpointe Community Schools and district Superintendent Christina Gibson, pictured, have been named in a lawsuit by a former employee who says she was discriminated against because of her race.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


EASTPOINTE — More accusations of race discrimination have been made against Eastpointe Community Schools and district Superintendent Christina Gibson.

On Jan. 5 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, former Eastpointe Community Schools employee Leah Black filed a lawsuit claiming she was discriminated against and forced to work in a hostile work environment because of her race.

The plaintiff, who is Black, seeks monetary damages and attorney fees. Attorneys Jeffrey Hart and Charissa Huang, of Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge in Ann Arbor, are representing Black in the case.

The school district and Gibson, who is white, have been charged with race discrimination, retaliation, creating a hostile work environment, and constructive discharge, which is also known as involuntary resignation. Black is requesting a trial by jury in the case.

The plaintiff started working for Eastpointe Community Schools in 2017 as an administrative assistant at Kelly Middle School, which is now called Eastpointe Middle School. One year later, Black became a grant specialist.

During her employment, Black applied for and/or expressed interest in several positions, including human resource specialist, grants coordinator, administrative assistant to the superintendent and athletic director. In her complaint, Black states each position was given to either a white female or white male rather than her.

“Plaintiff was more qualified for each of the positions than the white individuals who ultimately were given the position,” court records state.

During the 2020-2021 school year, Eastpointe Community Schools received Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund grants, also known as “ESSER.” The federal grant money was distributed to assist public schools across the state with funding that was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the complaint, Black said the district provided ESSER grant money to white staff members but failed “to provide the same grant to black employees which included the plaintiff.”

In the lawsuit, Black said that as a result of the racism, she sustained monetary damages, including loss of earnings and reputation, and dishonor within the educational community. Black said she also felt “indignity, humiliation, shame and embarrassment.”

The formal complaint states Black was “forced to look elsewhere for work because of her feelings of indignity and little worth to the Eastpointe Community Schools as evidenced by defendants’ blatant racially discriminatory conduct.”

The lawsuit also states that after Black left the district, Gibson “made it a mission to intimidate plaintiff and told the plaintiff that she was watching her and knew her superintendent in her new school.” The lawsuit did not disclose where Black is currently working.

When contacted via email about the lawsuit, Gibson provided the following statement: “We have been and are continuing to work with district legal representation to address these allegations,” Gibson said. “While we cannot comment specifically on pending litigation, we are prepared to defend vigorously against these allegations as we continue our work to serve and educate the children in our community.”

Gibson has been superintendent since July 1, 2022. Prior to that she served as assistant superintendent. During that tenure, she received the 2021 Michigan Association for Media in Education Service Award for School Administrators.

This is the third lawsuit in recent months that has been filed against Gibson and the district.

On July 14, former Eastpointe High School Principal Asenath Jones filed a formal complaint against Gibson and the school district accusing the superintendent of creating a hostile work environment, race discrimination and retaliation.

One month later, on Aug. 23, former secondary administrator Renita Williams filed a lawsuit against Gibson and the school district. Williams brought the action because she said she was discriminated against because of her race and suffered inequality, retaliation and a hostile work environment.

Jones and Williams are being represented by Hart and Huang, the same attorneys for Black. The plaintiffs are asking for jury trials. Both lawsuits are pending.