A former DeKalb County School District superintendent finalist is claiming the DeKalb County Board of Education discriminated against him because of age and race, his attorney said.

Rudolph “Rudy” Crew was named the sole finalist for the superintendent position in late April but ultimately rejected by the board of education after a 14-day public input period that is required by state law.

The board rejected Crew in a 4-3 vote in mid-May and opted to hire Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris instead.

Crew, who is the president of Medgar Evers College in New York and set to retire next year, now claims that the board discriminated against him and breached his employment contract, said attorney Steven Wolfe, who is representing Crew.

Rudolph “Rudy” Crew. (Special)

Wolfe said he sent a letter to the school district on June 16 notifying board members about the complaints. He said the letter outlines the amount of money the claims would be worth if Crew won in court with the hope that the board of education would resolve the case without litigation. Wolfe said the letter does not make a settlement demand.

“The board has received the letter from Dr. Crew’s attorney,” DSCD said in an emailed statement. “We are not able to comment at this time.”

Wolfe declined to comment on the board’s response to the letter.

Wolfe said the board of education offered Crew an employment agreement and then revoked it after Crew signed it.

Wolfe said he’s still in the “very early stages” of investigating the evidence about age discrimination, which he said reportedly happened in a closed board of education session where members allegedly discussed Crew may be too old for the position.

“If evidence shows that the board did in fact decide to pass on Dr. Crew because he was too old, federal age discrimination laws would apply to protect him,” Wolfe said.

The race discrimination claim comes because at least one board member seemed to be upset that Crew’s late wife was White, Wolfe said.

Despina Lamas, a Dunwoody resident and parent of two DCSD students, said the announcement of this lawsuit shows that the 14-day vetting process for superintendent finalists worked.

“I think the lawsuit is more of a reflection on the quality of character of Dr. Crew than the quality of character of our elected representatives,” Lamas said.

Dunwoody resident and DCSD parent Michelle Fincher said she thinks Crew’s claims are “baseless accusations.”

“I heard no one mention race or age in any of our concerns about him,” Fincher said. “It was his history of being a bully and mismanaging money.”

Lamas and Fincher said Crew’s controversial track record, which includes allegations of misspending money at Medgar Evers College where he works as president and budget shortfalls at another school district where he worked as superintendent, is the reason that the board chose to reject him.

“I’m very disappointed that the board brought him forth as a candidate in the first place. I felt like it was everything we were trying not to get,” Fincher said.

Both parents said they’re happy with Watson-Harris as the superintendent, who has led the district since her official start date on July 1.

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