Former associate dean of U of Missouri medical school claims racial bias forced her out of position

Rachel Brown, MD, former associate dean of Columbia-based University of Missouri School of Medicine, sued the school Monday, claiming racial bias forced her from her position in an intentional change of leadership amid efforts to improve student diversity, according to a KMIZ report.

In October 2016, the medical school said Dr. Brown, then the associate dean for student programs, would step down to serve as a psychiatry professor. However, the lawsuit claims medical school dean Patrick Delafontaine, MD, forced her from her position.

Dr. Brown, who is white, claims the school removed her from her position because of her ideas on how to improve the school's diversity. The campus faced unrest about the lack of diversity within MU's student body and faculty in 2015, the lawsuit mentions. Medical school officials discussed increasing the percentage of out-of-state students and the number of scholarships for "underrepresented" racial and ethnic applicants.

Dr. Brown said she feared the legal risks of the medical school focusing just on racial and ethnic minority applicants and wanted to consult the school's attorneys on these policies. Her viewpoint caused Dr. Delafontaine and Warren Lockette, MD, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, to accuse her of "obstructing change" at an August diversity meeting, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also claims Dr. Delafontaine and Dr. Lockette left Dr. Brown out of discussions on diversity programs.

In October, Dr. Delafontaine told Dr. Brown Laine Young-Walker, MD, an African-American child psychiatry professor, would replace her as dean for student programs.

"[Dr.] Delafontaine succumbed to outside pressure in removing Dr. Brown from the associate dean position because she opposed race preferences that had not been reviewed by legal counsel for compliance with the civil rights laws," the lawsuit said.

Dr. Brown is seeking to return to her job or to receive salary and benefits from now until she retires.

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