Black Sacramento Deputies Win $255,000 Settlement after Claiming Elk Grove School District, Sacramento County Engaged in Racism

By The Vanguard Staff

SACRAMENTO, CA – At least four Black Sacramento Sheriff’s deputies received a combined settlement of $255,000 earlier this year from the Elk Grove Unified School District and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office after the deputies sued for allegedly being denied extra shifts in the district for racist reasons.

According to the 2019 lawsuit, in a 2017 meeting, the school district’s then-director of safety and security, Joseph Airoso, said certain Black deputies—whom he called the “Soul Patrol” —would not work district football games.

The next month, the pleading noted, Airoso said the same deputies could not work any school events, not just football games, costing them the expected income from that work.

The Sacramento Bee also reports a separate suit in 2020, and covered by the same settlement, claimed Dexter Powe, who is Black, “would for the first time in 12 years not be patrolling Sheldon High School games.”    

And, the Powe lawsuit said, Airoso later “inexplicably removed” Powe from a regularly assigned extra work shift for the district and replaced him with a white man.

Sacramento County spokeswoman Kim Nava and Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Amar Gandhi declined comment on the settlement, said The Bee, adding Elk Grove Unified School District spokeswoman Lisa Levasseur also declined comment, but did note Airoso’s last day was in June 2021.

The settlement agreement, obtained by The Sacramento Bee through a Californian Public Records Act request, was signed in January 2023. The district paid $223,125, while the county paid $31,875 on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office.

The suits named the district, the sheriff’s office and Airoso as defendants, claiming racial discrimination, retaliation and harassment, in violation of the state Fair Employment and Housing Act, and wrongful termination.

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