SANTA MONICA—Tiffany Wright, a former instructor at a private preparatory school in Santa Monica, is suing the institution for alleged discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment harassment, and failure to prevent harassment. The lawsuit was filed on December 12. 

In the lawsuit, Wright claims that she was wrongfully denied a renewal of her contract in 2021 because she complained to her superiors about an incident with another staff member at New Roads School.

In 2019, Wright’s former co-worker told her to “go back to Africa.”  According to reports, he received no reprimand because an administrator claimed he didn’t mean it. “When she complained about this and the overall racism she had experienced, she was ignored, shunned, told to shut up, ‘eat sh**,’ and was even threatened by the school’s administrators,” according to the complaint. The co-worker that made the alleged comment is currently still employed with the school.  

There were several other incidents that occurred noting a hostile work environment according to the lawsuit. Wright was aware that at least one Black female teacher was fired because she refused to change the grade of a full-paying white student the lawsuit claims. She witnessed one presentation where they featured a picture of Vice President Kamala Harris next to an image of an ape, which was “jarring and racially offensive to many students and faculty members.”

Wright was hired by New Roads in August 2018 as a humanities teacher and later taught seventh-and eighth-grade English. She chose the school for employment because their orientation towards social justice appealed to her. The suit states that she, “wholeheartedly bought into its mission hook, line and sinker.” 

On the school’s website their mission statement reads, “We the people of New Roads liberate young individuals through the pursuit of justice, equity, and opportunity; raising generations of powerfully compassionate advocates in an intellectual habitat driven by authentic diversity — ultimately empowering them to disrupt systems that produce inequality and build a more just future.”

During her employment she observed that students at New Roads were divided into two groups: one with students without the need of financial assistant and another of half-paying/scholarship students. According to the suit, students whose tuition was paid by their families tended to be White and their relatives were influential because they donated money to the school. Wright alleged that most of the parents who were able to pay New Roads’ full tuition of $45,000 annually gave them the power to decide how officials managed the school. 

“The School was cognizant of this differential treatment based on race and still encouraged it, pressuring teachers to take better care of the full-paying white students,” Wright alleges in her lawsuit. “The School also pressured teachers to appease and do whatever the parents of full-paying white students wanted, including changing their children’s grades and treating them better than any of the minority half-paying scholarship students.”

Wright is seeking a jury trial and unspecified punitive damages.