Longtime Washington school administrator Ethelda Burke has resigned from her post as Tukwila School District Superintendent due to an ongoing investigation into race discrimination complaints against her, the News Tribune reports.
Nine district employees have alleged that 66-year-old Burke made racially insensitive remarks to them in the workplace. Two staff members at Showalter Middle School asserted she referred to them as “slaves.”
Meanwhile, the school district’s athletic and activities director J.D. Hill wrote in his complaint that Burke criticized him for hiring too many people of color and said he was “making the district look too black” and turning her district into a “ghetto.”
Both Burke and the aforementioned employees are black. In a statement issued by the school district following her resignation, Burke said: “As an African-American woman, born in a charity hospital in New Orleans, I learned at an early age what it’s like to be the victim of discrimination.”
The district investigated the allegations, but the Tukwila School Board rejected the complaints, prompting staffers to take their grievances to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is still conducting its inquiry.
Joan Mell, the attorney representing the nine employees, wrote a letter to the school board requesting the superintendent’s immediate suspension.
Burke, who had worked as a high school principal and superintendent for Tacoma Public Schools before moving to Tukwila in 2007, resigned June 30. She said the complaints have taken a toll on her and her family, and she wants the district to focus on education.