Tukwila schools superintendent resigns amid discrimination complaint

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TUKWILA, Washington - The Tukwila School District is in need of a new superintendent after Ethelda Burke abruptly resigned at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

Nine employees recently filed a complaint against Burke and said she referred to them as slaves.

“The ordeal of the past few months has taken a toll on me and my family, and created an unfortunate and unnecessary spectacle which served as a distraction to students, parents, teachers, staff and the board. It also resulted in irreparable damage to my reputation as an educator,” Burke’s resignation statement (PDF) read, in part. “It would be impossible for me to return and be effective as Superintendent.”

The district said it rejected accusations of discrimination against Burke, but added that comments she made from time to time could have been taken out of context or misunderstood, according to a note appended to Burke’s statement.

That note also stated that the employees who brought the complaint against Burke are all African American. So is Burke.

The district said it is now awaiting the results of an investigation of the matter by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Dr. Mellody Matthes was tapped by the board to serve as interim superintendent, a role she has essentially filled for the last three months, the district said.