Flint, MI— Flint Community Schools Superintendent Anita Steward and Deputy Director of Finance Ayunna Dompreh have both filed complaints against board of education member Laura MacIntyre for creating a “hostile” work environment.
Board President Carol McIntosh said she and other board members received an email from Dompreh stating she did not feel comfortable working with MacIntyre, that she felt threatened, and that she felt the situation was becoming “hostile.”
In a similar complaint Steward claimed her work situation had become hostile and that she felt disrespected, McIntosh said. When Steward initially filed her complaint, McIntosh said she gave her permission to excuse herself from meetings if she felt she could not act professionally.
McIntosh sought legal counsel to resolve the issue, and so the district would not be held liable, she said.
“Even though we are the board, we want (administration) to be to protected. And we want everybody else to be protected,” McIntosh said. “Nobody should have to come to work feeling threatened.”
MacIntrye is no longer allowed to communicate directly with Dompreh, McIntosh said. Instead, she will submit her questions and concerns via email to Executive Assistant Monaca Elston who will serve as a mediator.
“That will be the way that they will communicate, to keep any hostility, any opportunities for gaslighting situations, and to diffuse the situation,” McIntosh said.
Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Joyce Ellis-McNeal questioned the definition of hostile and said everyone’s perception of hostile behavior may differ.
“We have to be careful when we’re trying to destroy people’s characters,” Ellis-McNeal said, “We might have to look at what we call hostile. Is she threatening to hit her? Has she threatened to do something violent to her?”
McIntosh said that while there have been no physical or violent incidents, she felt that it could escalate to that point.
“The reason I did feel confident in the decision I made is because their situation, in my opinion, had the ingredients to become physical or volatile. That puts us on the line as a district,” McIntosh said.
MacIntyre said she wasn’t taking the complaint lightly, but “categorically rejected” behaving in a hostile way under the definition of labor laws.
“It has to be towards a legally protected category that I’m discriminating against. And I wasn’t being hostile according to the labor laws,” MacIntyre said.
According to U.S Labor Laws, a work environment must meet certain legal criteria to be considered hostile. This includes:
- Discriminatory behavior toward a protected classification, such as race, age, disability, or sexual orientation
- Persistent offensive and discriminatory behavior that occurs more than once
- Behavior so severe that it prevents another person from doing their job
MacIntyre said she would never and has never physically threatened Dompreh.
She also said the actions taken were hostile against her due to her disability.
“This behavior is hostile because I am in a categorically protected category. And I’ve stated so several times. I am neurologically atypical, which is protected under the ADA. And I have a physical disability. And in terms of the complaint that was made against me, some of the things that were listed was how I moved back and forth, about how I looked a particular way. And those are things that I exhibit as a result of my disabilities,” MacIntyre said.
McIntosh said that regardless of legal definitions, the district is legally obligated to protect their employees.
This is not the first time the board and administration have had issues concerning hostility.
In June, the board issued a verbal warning to Steward for running a “hostile” administration, citing performance issues and a lack of transparency. They also barred her from speaking to community partners without the presence of the board President.
Dompreh said she was satisfied with the solution.
Flint Beat reached out to MacIntyre for further comment but she did not respond by press time.