VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — The ongoing legal battle between former Valdosta football coach Alan Rodemaker and five Valdosta Board of Education members continues as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided Tuesday that Rodemaker’s case does not have sufficient facts to prove his claim of racial discrimination.
Circuit judges Robin S. Rosenbaum, Kevin C. Newsom and R. Lanier Anderson III chose to “vacate and remand” the suit back to the U.S. District Court for Middle Georgia, finding that the district court should have dismissed his claim.
The panel stated that “the mere fact that the school board’s vote occurred along racial lines, which Rodemaker emphasizes, does not establish that the defendants discriminated against him because he was white.”
Rodemaker’s legal journey began when his contract was not renewed in a 5-4 vote at a Valdosta Board of Education meeting in January 2020. The five members were Warren Lee, Liz Shumphard, Tyra Howard, Debra Bell and Kelisa Brown. As the votes were racially split, Rodemaker's wife Leah filed a lawsuit that alleged that the decision was “racially motivated.”
The circuit judges disagree.
“Rodemaker did not plead sufficient facts about the defendants racially discriminatory intent. He alleged that he was singled out from 150 other employees, but he did not allege any facts about the race, duties, or employment histories of those employees, or even whether the employees also worked at Valdosta High School,” the panel stated.
The panel went on to say that Rodemaker also "failed to allege any facts about his replacement" other than he believed it was the board members intent to replace him with an African-American coach and that he did not show any facts that he was treated differently from minority employees.
However, this development won't be stopping Rodemaker's legal defense.
According to a statement from Rodemaker's attorney Sam D. Dennis, they will continue to pursure a remedy in the court system for his wrongful non-renewal.
"We will request this order be reconsidered," Dennis said. "This has no bearing on the other pending lawsuits and the Title 7 Right to Sue that was provided to the Rodemakers by the EEOC. The Eleventh Circuit order does not go to the merits of Mr. Rodemaker’s case. Since the original motion to dismiss, more depositions have strongly shown Alan Rodemaker was not treated properly by the majority of the Valdosta School Board who voted against him."