COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Local NAACP members are backing 13 past and present employees of the Muscogee County School District as they file a federal lawsuit.
They say the school system has two retirement plans- one for teachers and supervisors and one for regular public school employees. But the system, according to the plaintiffs, has been tainted.
"The problem comes where black folks, no matter what position of supervision they're in, they can't get into the teacher's retirement plan yet whites are able to be slotted into that retirement plan and those whites are not even qualified to be in it," said Bill Madison, former local NAACP president in a press conference at the Government Center Monday.
"They only get about $500-$600 a month and they are people that work there that have retired that get $2000-$2500 a month. I want justice for all these people that worked 30, 40 years there," said Carlton Brantley, a plaintiff.
People like Godrey Biggers who worked as a brick mason for the school district for 42 years, overseeing several other workers. He says he has been denied the supervisor's program.
"I want to get out whatever I got in. What I was promised- that's what I want and then I'm through with the School Board. I reckon the reason they didn't put me in there is because I was this," Biggers said, referring to his skin color.
School district officials released a statement Monday saying state law, not local districts, defines which employees are eligible for one plan or the other.
"That's corruption and injustice. Why should we give white America one retirement and give black America another retirement," asked Brantley.
The Muscogee County School District says it has not discriminated against any employee in terms of their participation in a retirement plan and adamantly denies any allegations to the contrary.
The following is a statement from the Muscogee County School System:
COLUMBUS, GA –The Muscogee County School District is committed to providing a learning environment and a workplace free of all forms of discrimination or harassment.
It is the policy of Muscogee County Board of Education to promote equal opportunity on the basis of age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, and veteran status in its educational programs, activities, employment practices, purchasing procedures, and placement of contracts.
It is also the policy of the Muscogee County Board of Education not to discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status or any genetic information obtained in its educational programs, activities, or employment practices.
The State of Georgia created the retirement plans, Teachers Retirement System of Georgia and the Public School Employees Retirement System. State law, not local districts, defines which employees are eligible for one plan or the other.
The State of Georgia, not local districts, determines the amount of retirement benefits that are available to all public school employees who participate in either of the two plans. The Muscogee County School District complies with those state laws regarding all state sponsored employee retirement benefits.
Although it would be inappropriate to comment on individual personnel matters, the Muscogee County School District has not discriminated against any employee in terms of that employee's participation in a retirement plan and adamantly denies any such allegation to the contrary.