ATLANTA — A new civil lawsuit has been filed in federal court alleging bullying and harassment by the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) office in charge of investigating those kinds of complaints.
Two former APS employees, Fonda Price and Kristie Walker, say they were forced to resign from the APS Employee Relations Department last year.
The women allege in their suit that it started when their complaints about bullying from a coworker were ignored.
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In a signed statement filed with the Equal Opportunity Commission, Price wrote that she watched the coworker “go into rages.” Walker wrote that “he physically confronted me.”
Both women allege their supervisor, Toni Sellers-Pitts instead punished them for filing complaints against first the coworker, then Sellers-Pitts herself.
“The very department that is supposed to be protecting the rights of employees in Atlanta Public Schools was not protecting the rights of some of its own employees. That’s the profound irony in this case,” the women’s attorney Artur Davis said.
Walker alleged in her EEOC complaint that Sellers-Pitts warned any staff making complaints about her needed to know that the head of the human resources department was Sellers-Pitts’ sorority sister.
“It’s one thing to have a bad actor employee, but another thing to have a department that doesn’t protect people who are bold enough to come forward,” Davis said.
APS tells Channel 2 Action News in a statement, “Atlanta public schools has not been served with this lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.”
The school district did eventually part ways with Toni Sellers-Pitts in the fall of 2022.
The lawsuit quotes an internal memo that APS “received numerous complaints from principals’ staff and employees regarding Toni Sellers-Pitts.”
“APS appears to have waited until they feared getting sued. APS should have acted when it was clear people were being hurt,” Davis said.
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