CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A lawyer on behalf of the Academic Magnet High School football coach that was fired and rehired after an investigation into what some called inappropriate post game celebrations has filed a lawsuit against the Charleston County School District, its Associate Superintendent of Louis Martin, Jr., and former superintendent Nancy McGinley.
Coach Bud Walpole claims his civil rights were violated.
When announcing his removal in October 2014, McGinley said the decision followed an investigation into a "watermelon ritual with students making monkey sounds" that football team members celebrated after recent victories. Some called it racially insensitive.
The lawsuit, submitted on Monday, argues there were a cases at Brentwood Middle School and Baptist Hill High School where black female teachers were not punished after being accused of racial harassment. Both schools are in the Charleston County School District.
"A jury in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina Charleston Division, had a unanimous verdict that a public school in Charleston County was a racially hostile work environment for a white female teacher to work in," the lawsuit states in reference to the case at Brentwood Middle School. "And that the Principal of that school was motivated by evil motive or intent, or that it involved reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected rights of the white female teacher who was the Plaintiff in that case, and the Judge in that Federal Court upheld the Verdict, when the Charleston County School District made a post-trial Motion to overturn the Verdict."
"Two public school students, testified publicly and under oath, without any contradiction, that they each went to school every day in fear of their safety and under constant racial harassment," the lawsuit continues.
The lawsuit says no member of the administrative team at the school were given formal reprimands or requested to undergo sensitivity training as a condition of continuing employment with the District like Walpole was.
"At Baptist Hill High School [...] two students have filed complaints in the Charleston Division of the United States District Court, and two teachers at that same school have filed complaints in the Charleston Division of the United States District Court, publicly alleging racially hostile environments which caused them to no longer be able to attend or work [there], but there has been no public termination of the Principal of that school or sensitivity training required for the principal of that school as a condition of remaining employed in the District, nor has the District conducted or caused to be conducted an investigation as to how or why teachers and students at Baptist Hill High," it states.
Because of this, the lawsuit argues, Walpole was discriminated against on the basis of his race and gender.
The lawsuit continues: The plaintiff was treated in a racially disparate manner as a white male and was publicly humiliated, publicly terminated by a press conference held by McGinley from his position as the Head Football Coach and formally reprimanded by Defendant Martin and forbidden by Martin to set foot on the premises of the school where he taught, forbidden by Martin from ever coaching at any school in the District, forced to undergo humiliating interrogation by Martin, all for what Martin characterized as his failure to supervise students for conduct which no student has ever admitted wrongdoing for or ever been found by a court to be wrong or offensive, and then only allowed the Plaintiff to resume employment with the District after undergoing sensitivity training, while the District through its Policies and Customs did not terminate the employment of, publicly humiliate or refuse to allow on the premises of where they worked, the two Supervisors of Brentwood Middle School and Baptist Hill High School, on the basis that those two employees were of a race different than the Plaintiff, and of a race that the District treated differently, even though the Principal of Brentwood Middle School was found by a Federal Court Jury, by "clear and convincing evidence" to have been "motivated by evil motive or intent" or "reckless or callous indifference" to the federally protected rights of an employee on the basis of the race of that employee, and the Principal of Baptist Hill High School had been publicly accused in the form of lawsuits filed in Federal Court of allowing a racially hostile work and school environment for teachers and students on the basis of race, nor had those two Principals ever been subjected to a humiliating inquiry by the District to seek the truth of those accusations.
Representatives for the school district declined to comment on the suit.