URBANA (WAND) - A former superintendent wants his job back and is suing the district and its seven elected school board members to get it.
According to the News-Gazette, former District 116 Superintendent Don Owens filed a lawsuit earlier this week in Champaign County Circuit Court. Owen says he was fired for questioning an audit ordered by the board a year ago of the hiring of minority faculty and staff members.
Besides his job, Owen wants punitive damages against board members John Dimit, Anne Hall, Ruth Ann Fisher, Brenda Carter, Paul Poulosky and Peggy Patten, and former board member Benita Rollins-Gay.
In 2017, Owen and other administration employees formed a "Recruitment and retention Committee" to hire more minority teachers and staff. The committee hoped to hire about 30 minority staffers.
District staff and union members complained that Owen and his colleagues violated hiring policies.
Without consulting Owen, the board then held a "hiring practices audit" of the newly hired employees, who were all African-American, Latino and Asian.
Owen said he expressed concern to the school board in a Sept. 24, 2018, closed session saying that it was targeting minority employees and that it could lead to legal consequences for the district.
In February, the board notified Owen that they were not renewing his contract. After being demoted to teaching, he resigned.