QUINCY – A racial discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court against the Plumas Unified School District remains scheduled for jury trial following an order by Judge John A. Mendez with the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of California.
In his 28-page ruling, Mendez denied the school district’s motion to dismiss six of the 10 claims made in
the lawsuit filed by Jerald Clinton (J.C.) Eaglesmith.
The judge permanently dismissed two of the claims without an opportunity to amend them.
Mendez allowed Eaglesmith and other plaintiffs to amend two claims, which they did in late October, said
Peter Haberfeld, the plaintiffs’ attorney with the Oakland-based law firm of Sigel and Yee.
The school district has answered the amended complaint and the case remains scheduled for a federal
jury trial in October 2012.
Eaglesmith, a teacher at Plumas County Community School and former Quincy High School basketball
coach, claimed he was singled out for harassment and retaliation after he and his wife, Ramona, did a
2006 presentation at Quincy High School discussing the American Indian perspective on Thanksgiving.
Following the presentation, the defendants interfered with his coaching, ostracized him, questioned his
spiritual beliefs, referred to him in derogatory terms and refused to rehire him as basketball coach for the 2010-2011 year, the lawsuit states.
Among the incidents of harassment Eaglesmith lists is a truck “adorned with a noose and racist bumper
stickers” that the district allowed an employee to park next to his classroom.
In addition to the trustees of the Plumas school district and county office of education, the lawsuit names as defendants Quincy High School Principal Sue Segura and Vice Principal Jeff Ray, who also serves as
school athletic director.
Other plaintiffs are Ramona Eaglesmith, Eileen Cox and Bruce Barnes, both non-minority school
employees who supported Eaglesmith.
In several of its motions the school district argued that Cox, Barnes and Ramona Eaglesmith did not have
legitimate or sufficient standing to be included in the lawsuit. Mendez denied most of these arguments,
refusing to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaints.
He upheld the district by dismissing Ramona Eaglesmith’s claim that she was denied equal protection and
First Amendment rights. Mendez also dismissed J.C. Eaglesmith’s claim that Ray and Segura violated his
First Amendment rights by retaliating against him.
The district has accepted the amendments the plaintiffs filed on these claims, said Haberfeld.
Mendez’s ruling follows an unsuccessful attempt at mediation.