Defamation Specialists Join Lawsuit Against Regional School District


Photo: The Graphic

The law firm of Meier Watkins Phillips Pusch, a Washington D.C.-based practice specializing in defamation, has joined the legal team representing Amherst Regional Middle School (ARMS) Dean of Students Lamicko Magree in her lawsuit against the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District (ARPS). The  lawsuit was filed on April  5,  2024, alleging  that  Magee was defamed and suffered retaliation for  advocating against discrimination in the ARPS school system. Magree has been on medical leave from the district since April 30, 2024.

Magee recently amended her lawsuit to include claims of discrimination and retaliation in the recent ARMS principal search for which she was a finalist. She was the only internal candidate and the only person of color being considered. Her lawyer, Atlanta-based civil rights attorney Arnold J. Lizana III, said that Interim Superintendent Doug Slaughter’s decision to cancel the search after a white candidate declined the position was a retaliatory action against Magee. “We were not surprised by the latest act of retaliation against Ms. Magee as the district has repeatedly demonstrated an inclination to violate her civil rights at every opportunity. As a first tier finalist, Magee should have been offered the position, once the less qualified white candidate declined it.”

In her lawsuit, Magee names the Amherst Regional Public Schools, former Amherst Superintendent Michael Morris, current Interim Superintendent Slaughter, and former Assistant Superintendent and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Doreen Cunningham as defendants.

According to Lizana, Meier Watkins handles many of the nation’s highest profile defamation matters. Several of the firm’s attorneys sued Fox News in historic defamation litigation over the network’s dissemination of disinformation about the 2020 election. Their litigation resulted in a record breaking $787.5 million settlement and a summary judgment finding that Fox News had broadcast false claims about election fraud.   

Magee retained Meier Watkins just weeks after she amended her defamation lawsuit to add additional claims of retaliation and discrimination.

Lizana commented, “This powerful law firm is joining the case at a time when Ms. Magee is experiencing ongoing retaliation from the district. They approved her request for administrative leave, but one of the named defendants, Douglas Slaughter, reframed the purpose of the leave as a disciplinary measure, while they investigate a newly manufactured claim regarding her job performance. This raises the obvious question why they previously vetted and presented her as a finalist in the principal search, and now suddenly they claim there are problems with her performance?  This is clear retaliation and slander by Slaughter for naming him as a defendant in her discrimination lawsuit, and it further confirms the hostile work environment that is allowed to flourish at ARPS.”

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