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Employees Allege Racial Discrimination at School for the Deaf

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WILSON — A group of employees at the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf says African Americans are denied promotions, suspended and even fired because of their race.

"We apply for jobs and we're denied and either the position changes or the qualifications change and that needs to stop," says Paul Bridges.

The employees say the proof is in the numbers. School officials say minorities account for almost 40 percent of the employees hired in the past year, but they admit there are no minorities in high management positions. And of the 74 teachers at the school, only four are black.

The group says those statistics are alarming considering 64 percent of the students are African American.

"We're really not giving the students all that they can have as far as positive role models and we need more of those here in the school system," Bridges says.

School officials say there is a good reason for the low number of minority teachers: not enough people apply.

"If the pool of applicants is not there, I can't leave a classroom empty," says Superintendent Steve Witchey.

Governor Hunt announced Friday that the state is forming a committee to look into the allegations of discrimination.

School officials see that as a good sign; the employees here are still skeptical.

"We don't want any more task forces; we want some action," says Inez Banks.