A school district in Michigan is claiming ignorance over a clause in its contract with the state teachers union indicating that “special consideration" will be accorded to job applicants who are female, minorities, or practitioners of "the non-Christian faith." (Who knew there was only one?)
Spero News reports that “the public schools of Ferndale, a suburb of Detroit” signed a contract in 2011 with teachers affiliated with the Michigan Education Association, which states:
Should there be two (2) or more of these applicants with equal qualifications for the position and one (1) or more of these applicants with equal qualifications is a current employee, the current employee with the greatest seniority shall be assigned. Special consideration shall be given to women and/or minority defined as: Native American, Asian American, Latino, African American and those of the non-Christian faith. However, in all appointments to vacant positions, the Board's decision shall be final. [Emphasis added]
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center told Spero News that the language “is astonishing. If you are a white Christian male, you can forget about applying to the Ferndale school district. It says that in black and white.” Make that “black and privileged.”
Thompson went on to note that the contract may be in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Constitution of the State of Michigan, which notes:
[The government] shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
The language singling out followers of "the non-Christian faith" is in violation of another Michigan state law, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment and public services on the basis of religion.
According to ClickonDetroit.com, the union has agreed to remove the discriminatory language. Shelley Rose, a spokeswoman for Ferndale Public Schools, maintains that the district — which serves 2,190 students — wasn’t aware of the clause’s existence until reporters approached them on Monday.
Rose believes the language was a holdover from a 1970s version of the contract that escaped everyone’s attention.
Tim Kelly (R), a state representative, has asked the Michigan Board of Education to investigate, saying he's glad the language is being purged but finds it disturbing it was permitted through in the first place.
In what is possibly an unrelated move, the district’s superintendent, Gary Meier, announced his plan to retire effective June 30.
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