Local News

Local School System Accused Of Failing To Investigate Racism Claim

Posted July 1, 2004

— According to two school-board members in Rocky Mount, the school system is turning a blind eye toward racism.

Their claim concerns an assistant coach's comment that some people viewed as racist. Board members Warren Boone and Robert Bynum said it happened two years ago, and still no official action has been taken.

"For two years, we just kind of looked the other way on it," Bynum said.

Boone said an investigator talked to the board during a closed-session Monday. But Boone was not pleased with how the discussion ended.

"The board decided that this particular method of investigation would not go forward," he said, "that we would try to focus on the larger issue, and that larger issue is more of a commitment to fairness, equality and diversity."

Boone said he does not support that approach.

"Some of us who have seen this before feel this is just a way of dropping it and sweeping it under the rug," he said.

While Bynum and Boone had no problem talking about the issue, it seems the goal of the coach at the center of the allegations is to say nothing. When WRAL reached him by phone, Chris Lee had no comment.

Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Uzzell, who used to volunteer as an assistant for the Rocky Mount High football team, said during the 2002 season that then-assistant coach Lee made a racially offensive remark to the quarterback.

Uzzell and two other officers working with the team complained. Even though they later were let go, they never let go of their concern.

Last week, the superintendent's office said the school system takes the allegations seriously and is investigating.

If Bynum and Boone have their say, the issue will not remain quiet.


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