By Dave Warner
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Four white teachers are suing a black school principal after being required to read an article stating white teachers are unfit to teach African-American students.
The lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court also name the Philadelphia school district, which includes Thomas Mifflin Elementary School, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
The lawsuits say Charles Ray III, who is black, was principal of Mifflin in 2008 and 2009 when he required the teachers to read an article about white teachers' inability to instruct black students.
Various actions by Ray undermined the authority of white teachers, the lawsuits said.
The lawsuits contend the teachers suffered mental anguish, anxiety, depression, humiliation, inaccurate employment history, reputation damage and fear of reprisal. Each teacher seeks damages of $150,000.
The 232-student elementary school, whose student body is 86 percent black, is in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, a city where the population has a nearly even black-white split.
The district and union declined comment on the legal action because they had not yet seen the documents.
A new principal is leading the school after Ray left in July 2009, the school district said on Wednesday, declining to disclose the circumstances of his departure.
Patricia Heenan, lawyer for the four teachers, said on Wednesday they remain at Mifflin.
"What they really want is to make sure that nothing like this happens again," Heenan said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)