Fired DeKalb rec director had stormy 7-year history
Monday’s firing of the DeKalb County recreation director, ostensibly for messing up entries for a state swim meet, actually may have been seven years in the making.
DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis fired Marilyn Boyd Drew (right) after her department missed several opportunities to enroll 67 kids in a statewide swimming competition to be held this weekend.
But Drew has been accused of job discrimination, based on reverse racial bias, almost as long as she’s been running the department.
Four parks and recreation workers filed suit in 2004 alleging Drew, former CEO Vernon Jones and others engaged in a pattern of discriminatory behavior designed to replace white managers in the department with blacks. Herbert Lowe, a black supervisor, charged that the county eliminated his job and forced him out because he wouldn’t go along with the scheme.
In November 2006, a federal judge ruled the defendants had presented enough evidence to take the case to a jury. But the case has been in a holding pattern since then because Jones, Drew and other defendants asked a federal appellate court to overturn that decision.
Attorneys filed briefs and argued before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2007, plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Anulewicz said today. The court has yet to rule.
According to the suit, Drew told Lowe to “dig up dirt” on white employees and withhold information from them, so they would appear to be incompetent. He claimed Jones, the county’s first African-American CEO, told him several times he wanted a “darker administration.”
Former parks director Becky Kelley said the CEO’s aides had urged her to hire Drew in 2001 because she was black and Jones would not accept a white candidate. Nine months later, Jones reorganized the department and gave Kelley’s job to Drew. The former department director was demoted and moved to a windowless office that had once been a storage area. She later resigned.
Other top managers claimed in the suit that Drew reduced their job responsibilities and excluded them from policy discussions.