TUKWILA – Nine employees of the Tukwila School District have filed complaints of racial discrimination against their superintendent for allegedly making inappropriate comments.
For example a group of female staff members at Showalter Middle School says the superintendent, Ethelda Burke, once referred to them as slaves. Burke is black.
Athletic and activities director J.D. Hill said that Burke “makes racially derogatory statements.” Hill also wrote in his complaint that Burke said he was hiring too many people of color and “making the district look too black” and turning her district into a “ghetto.”
The employees’ attorney filed the complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The district, the superintendent, and the board declined to comment on the personnel issues.
Joan Mell, the attorney representing the employees, has written a letter asking the board for Burke’s immediate suspension.
Burke came to the Tukwila district in 2007 from Tacoma, where she was a deputy superintendent. Earlier she was Stadium High School principal.
The Tukwila School District is one of the most diverse in the state; 70 percent of the children are minorities.