MONETT, Mo. — A Monett teacher has sued the school district for sex discrimination, charging that she has been paid less than her male counterparts.

The school district's attorney, meanwhile, has asserted that the district's practices in paying its employees are aboveboard and within the bounds of the law.

In her lawsuit, which was filed at the end of June in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Krista Doss has requested a jury trial and damages equal to unpaid wages for the three years preceding her complaint.

According to the complaint, Doss has worked with the school district for 10 years, the first two of which were as a kindergarten through 12th-grade classroom teacher. She then transferred to the Scott Regional Technology Center in the early childhood program, and because her K-12 teaching certificate was not applicable for teaching vocational education, she became a fully certified vo-ed instructor — as required by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — within the following two years.

Doss alleges that she has continued to be paid according to the salary schedule of a K-12 instructor and that her male colleagues who are paid according to the vo-ed instructional salary schedule are paid more than she is.

She further maintains that she is "among the most highly educated" of her colleagues because she has a bachelor's degree, a K-12 teaching certificate and a vo-ed teaching certificate.

Doss alleges in her lawsuit that she inquired with the district's central office about the discrepancy and was told that "she did not qualify for the salary schedule treatment of her similarly situated vo-ed colleagues because of her K-12 background."

"My treatment is discriminatory based on my sex and gender," Doss wrote in an August complaint to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, a copy of which was included in her lawsuit. "It is nonsensical that I have been punished for having more training and education for my work as a vo-ed instructor than is necessary. Because I am among the only female vo-ed teachers and because my subject is a stereotypically female profession, I believe my requests for equal pay are being ignored."

In an April response to her complaint, the commission notified Doss that she had a right to bring a civil action against the school district within 90 days and closed her case.

The school district, which is under the supervision of Superintendent Brad Hanson, referred questions to Springfield attorney Ransom Ellis.

"The school district did nothing wrong, and its conduct and pay schedules have always been, with Ms. Doss and all employees, totally legal and nondiscriminatory," Ellis said when reached by telephone Wednesday.

Ellis declined to comment further, adding that he plans to file a formal response in federal court on behalf of the school district.

Legal representation

Krista Doss, who lives in Verona, is being represented by Kansas City attorneys Amy Maloney and Matt O'Laughlin. Their law firm specializes in harassment and discrimination claims, particularly in work and school settings, according to its website.

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.