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Teacher Wins $2.5 Million on Claim of Racial Bias in Firing

November 08, 1986

A former teacher of handicapped students at Camarillo State Hospital who alleged in a lawsuit that she was fired because of racial discrimination has been awarded $2.5 million.

After a 20-day trial, the jury in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ordered the state to pay the teacher, Betty Andrews of Los Angeles, $750,000 in actual damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages. The state also must pay about $200,000 in legal fees and is required to reinstate Andrews.

According to Andrews' attorney, Robert M. Baskin, she was fired by a supervisor in September, 1982, for 15 alleged incidents of misconduct during the previous year, such as not reporting a student's theft of a candy bar.

Andrews, who is black, argued that the dismissal was unjustified and was motivated by racial prejudice.

Michael Mount, senior staff counsel for the state Department of Developmental Services, which was sued along with Andrews' supervisor, said the state will decide next week whether to appeal.

Andrews, 54, now teaches at a private clinic in Los Angeles. She said of the verdict: "It's restored a lot of faith in being an American, and a black American woman at that."

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