Civil rights group files federal complaint into rehiring of AMHS football coach

Published: Oct. 30, 2014 at 12:36 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 30, 2014 at 7:52 PM EDT
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Coach Bud Walpole
Coach Bud Walpole

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Civil rights group, The National Action Network, announced Thursday, they are calling for an investigation into the firing and rehiring of Academic Magnet High School football coach Bud Walpole, and what they call a lack of diversity at the school.

The group was joined by the Charleston Branch NAACP, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, and others in a 10 a.m. presser in front of the Charleston County School District headquarters on Calhoun Street.

Representatives with the National Action Network announced they have filed a federal complaint with the U.S. Justice Department, and are asking the Office of Civil Rights to investigate the lack of diversity at Academic Magnet, as well as the handling of Walpole's firing, and subsequent rehiring.

The group says they support Charleston County Superintendent Nancy McGinley, who initially called for Walpole to be fired following an investigation into allegations of "inappropriate post game celebrations" by the Academic Magnet High School football team.

McGinley said the celebrations involved upperclassmen smashing a watermelon on the ground while the team chanted "animalistic or monkey-like" sounds. McGinley reinstated Walpole three days later, citing the "potential value that he will add to our students and the community, given this experience."

According to the NAACP, "the overwhelmingly white parents of the football student team galvanized a significant amount of support around re-instating Coach Walpole and demanded the firing of Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley."

NAACP officials said firing McGinley would send the wrong message, and instead blamed the school board for the handling of the situation, demanding they release records of their investigation into the conduct of Academic Magnet High School football team, coaches and staff.

They went on to blame the Charleston County School Board for not supporting diversity in their schools.

According to a release from the National Action Network, of the 644 students at Academic Magnet High School, only 15, or 2.3%, are African American. At School of the Arts, which shares its campus with Academic Magnet, only 9% of students are African American.  Meanwhile, Charleston County School District has approximately 48,000 students, of which 40% are African American.

"The School Board has consistently opposed every substantial measure of this and past superintendents to end discrimination against African Americans and other students of color and significantly improve diversity," the release states.

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