Local woman files federal lawsuit against Lynchburg City Schools, alleges discrimination, racism

Lawsuit says former LCS interim superintendent called black employees "the help"

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - The Lynchburg city school system has a federal lawsuit on its hands.

Roanoke attorney Tommy Strelka’s law firm represents Twanna Hancock and former Lynchburg Assistant School Superintendent John McClain.

“Ms. Hancock, certainly experienced discrimination and racial bias at the workplace and it seemed to stem from the superintendent at the time,” Strelka said.

According to the complaint, then interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Massie referred to African-Americans or black employees as “the help” and allegedly said he “would hang ‘em from a tree” when talking about an insubordinate minority employee.

“I’ll tell you, ever since filing this lawsuit, other witnesses have reached out to us about what they have observed with Superintendent Massie,” Strelka said.

Hancock started at LCS as a second-grade teacher in 2013.

In 2017, she was promoted to be “supervisor for professional learning" at LCS.

“There were complaints about her that were absolutely baseless,” Strelka said.

As a result, she claims she was unlawfully demoted and reassigned to be a sixth grade teacher later that year.

The 25-page lawsuit details an investigation led by interim Superintendent Massie into the complaints made against Hancock.

John McClain, former assistant superintendent, was a part of the first interviews.

He expressed his concerns that the superintendent and others investigating the allegations may have been biased.

After that, McClain said he was excluded from further participation and his job was ultimately eliminated in 2018.

“He had never been written up, never been reprimanded and all the sudden loses a job for sticking up for somebody else because they were being racially discriminated against,” Strelka said.

Strelka Law plans to file McClain's lawsuit in a week.

“The damages that both plaintiffs allege will be a cost to the school system and the attorney’s fees from our office will be a cost to the school system. To me, these cases should be settled on the front end. But if Lynchburg wants to fighT, I’ve got my boxing gloves,” Strelka said.

10 News reached out to Lynchburg city and school board members; all say they don’t comment on pending litigation. We were unable to reach Massie for his response to the lawsuit.

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