Desert Vista High School teacher files lawsuit claiming racial discrimination in classroom

AHWATUKEE, AZ - Desert Vista High School teacher Dr. Cicely Cobb has a passion for teaching, striving for a diverse learning environment in her classroom.

But since September, she claims it's been the complete opposite.

"Things have escalated to the point that I had no choice but to file a lawsuit," said Cobb.

Cobb is now taking the Tempe Union High School District to federal court, filing a 20-page complaint in February, making allegations of racial discrimination by students and a lack of action by administrators regarding the issue.

But the district filed an answer to her complaint, citing no evidence of racial discrimination toward her. She even goes on to claim they've reprimanded her with extra supervision as a result of her complaints.

"It's mandatory where I sit in the English department work room, I cannot stay in my classroom during prep time," said Cobb.

In her complaint, Cobb claims in September 2013, a white student asked a black student to show him his driver’s license, making the comment, "you are probably so black in the picture, we can only see your teeth."

She also claims the issue, along with other complaints of racism, was brought to district officials a month later, claiming they laughed it off and did nothing about it.

And in November of that year, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"The district is denying this, I think they're trying to downplay it," said Rev. Jarrett Maupin.

In January of 2014, a cell phone video was posted to social media sites, showing a white male student hitting her on the head with what looks like a laminated piece of paper that she calls in court documents a "bathroom pass."

She claims it was racially motivated, saying she's never seen it done to other white teachers.

"Not only are students being bullied on a daily basis in America, teachers are as well," said Cobb.

In the district's answer to Cobb's complaints, they say no discrimination took place, denying any allegations of racial discrimination, claiming any directives toward Cobb strictly had to do with her teaching performance.

Cobb expects a preliminary hearing to take place sometime in May.

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