Ethelda Burke has resigned her job as superintendent of the Tukwila School District, saying an ongoing investigation into race discrimination complaints against her has taken a toll on her and her family.
Burke was a long-time educator and administrator in Tacoma, serving as Stadium High School principal and deputy superintendent here, before moving to Tukwila in 2007.
Burke resigned from her Tukwila job June 30.
Nine employees of the district in South King County filed complaints against Burke for allegedly making inappropriate comments. One group of employees said Burke referred to them as “slaves” and another employee complained that Burke criticized him for hiring too many people of color and turning the district into a “ghetto.”
Both Burke and the complaining employees are black.
The school district looked into the employee allegations but the school board rejected the complaints. A written statement from the school district said that “there may have been some comments made from time to time that were taken out of context or misunderstood, but they do not support claims of discrimination.”
The staff members took their complaints to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is still conducting its inquiry.
In a statement issued by the school district, Burke said “As an African-American woman, born in a charity hospital in New Orleans, I learned at an early age what it’s like to be the victim of discrimination.”
She said she has devoted her 40-year career in education to providing “equity in access” for all students.
She said she resigned because the complaints have created a distraction and that she wants the district to remain focused on education.
The Associated Press contributed to the report