JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An investigation into a discrimination complaint found that the former Duval County Public Schools Director of Communications did not discriminate against an employee based on race.
Jill Johnson was moved to the district's human resources department on January 23 after an the investigation found that while she did not discriminate against Supervisor of External Communications Kandra C. Albury based on race, she did use inappropriate workplace language by referring to her husband as a "redneck."
"In no way would I describe the man I am married to in a derogatory manner, and I was truly unaware that referring to him as a redneck would be deemed racially incentive," Johnson wrote in a memo responding to the investigation's outcome.
According to Dictionary.com, a "redneck" as "an uneducated white farm laborer, especially from the South" and "a bigot or reactionary, especially from the rural working class."
In her complaint, Albury, who is African-American, said that Johnson had rated her lower in a performance assessment than she had on her self-assessment.
"Mrs. Johnson seems to avoid me at all costs and sees me asking questions as a weakness or disadvantage. Mrs Johnson continues to minimize my contributions, yet publishes and implements my ideas while deeming my work as substandard," Albury wrote.
Albury went on to state that Johnson would compare her work to two Caucasian co-workers.
"In an attempt to make me feel inferior, Mrs. Johnson compares my work performance and workload to that of Kelly Bell and Brittany Schnorr who happen to be Caucasian."
Albury's complaint also alleged that the staff made comments about the ethnicity of the wife of Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, saying that Bell asked "Is she all the way black?" Also, Albury wrote that Johnson commented on Vitti's wife's shoes, quoting Johnson as saying "She had on some heels that may fly in Miami but they sure won't work here in Jacksonville."
In her response memo, Johnson said she did not make that statement, but a reporter did during the Superintendent search process, and was recounting that statement to staff.
"In retrospect, although I don't believe that the district has faulted me for these comments as a leader, I personally realize that I could have done more to prevent discussion of such non-workplace issues among the staff," Johnson wrote.
A memo from Vitti (see second page) to Johnson said that the report found "no racial bias or prejudice" but that "there were examples of a lapse in judgement as it pertains to maintaining a consistent professional work environment where all employees regardless of racial and ethnic background feel comfortable with the content of the conversation."
Vitti also recommended that the Communications Department staff and Johnson undergo sensitivity training.