In a recent article, Suwannee School District residents attended a recent school board meeting to voice their opposition to recent racism. The school board meeting was well attended with the inclusion of several local civic organizations. The responses to the allegations by Suwannee School District representatives falls short of the expectations of a school district that desires to enhance the education of all students.

The civic organizations that attended the Suwannee School District board meeting included the Suwannee County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Suwannee County Ministerial Alliance.

Suwannee County Ministerial Alliance Director, Alfonso Ross, stated, when services are done on a biased or discriminatory basis, a breach is established and trust between the school system and citizens is null. At the current time, we believe that our current school system has become unhealthy, toxic, disgraceful, disrespectful and distasteful when it comes to handing out justice to our students in an equitable way.”

Ross spoke of “three poisons” in the school system: injustice, discrimination, and “business as usual. It is evident that these three toxic variables bring cover-ups, hiding of justice, and hiding of the truth. When a system is unhealthy, it jeopardizes an entire community and that system must be fixed. … A broken system cannot be fixed by hiding behind politics, religion, how long we’ve known someone or how well we think we know someone, or trying to protect someone’s reputation where protection is not justified. This broken system must be fixed by laying the truth on the table and letting the chips fall where they may.”

Ross added he hoped he had brought awareness to the board and the district, and stated: “We, as concerned citizens, parents, and spiritual leaders, will no longer sit back and tolerate injustices towards certain students – whether black, white, red, olive, male, female, gay, straight, rich, or poor.”

The representative for the NAACP, Lesley White, spoke about alleged discriminatory practices and what they call the public’s lack of trust in the school district. He had one demand which is the removal of a certain teacher from Suwannee High School.

The incident that NAACP representative Lesley White referred to was when local parent Shalonda Baker said her son was beat up by another student last October in what she is calling a hazing incident at Suwannee High School. She states her African American son was participating in a wrestling training event after school Oct. 6, when he went to get a drink of water and was told to get in the back of the line by other student-athletes.

According to Baker, her son was hit twice in the mouth with a closed fist by a team member. Baker claims former SHS wrestling coach David Laxton sent her son home walking and bleeding and with a concussion. 

SHS Principal Ted Roush wrote in a letter dated Oct. 14 that the incident occurred in the after school wrestling conditioning practice and that following the altercation, Laxton failed to make contact with Baker and failed to notify school administration. As a result, Laxton was reportedly suspended with pay through Oct. 20, 2014, according to Roush’s letter.

School board member Jerry Taylor responded by stating, “We’re training people; we’re addressing these things. We’re not just sitting blindly and turning a blind eye to what’s going on. We’re seeing needs in our district and we’re trying to reach out and meet those needs … That’s one thing that bothers me when I hear something like what I heard here tonight. I’m not saying what this man [Ross] said wasn’t true, but it ain’t all true. We’ve got people that lay it on the line everyday. There’s people in this room that do things for kids that we’ll never know about.” 

The Suwannee School District has made a major error in not appropriately responding to the racial allegations, even though their response to the teacher involved in the hazing incident was limited. The Suwannee School District should have responded by the following:

  1. Establish and enforce a hazing policy
  2. Establish and enforce a bullying policy
  3. Ensure that all personnel involved in after school programs have medical training in case of injuries
  4. Establish an operating procedure for student injuries
  5. Conduct a racial evaluation of each school to ensure that policies and procedures are not discriminatory
  6. Use a team building process with concerned stakeholders to find solutions for alleged discrimination

The present response by the Suwannee School District is inadequate and it will not be a surprise if a investigation by the United State Department of Education Office of Civil Rights finds discrimination to be prevalent.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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22 thoughts on “How should Suwannee School District respond to recent racial allegations?”

  1. This just not started i myself been on the side as well i know the wrestling coach he wasn’t like that but I guess that it was always in him yes and about a black student hit a white student been there i got suspend but when I hit a black student we got a padding that was it not everyone in Suwannee County is racist but you have a lot that is I can tell you’ll something that you’ll would be sock

    1. I Live in Suwannee County.. They are talking the one in Florida? If so then yes this County is beyond racist! We may be white but I had to take my kids of bus and I get into it with the schools on a weekly basis. Teachers and bus drivers have become verbally abusive and bullies to these kids.. Yet they all cover for eachother! The cops here are repulsive, they don’t do anything for anyone unless they friends! Ots sad my neighbor can shoot at my house my kids amd my dogs, killed 9 my dogs last week and they won’t do ANYTHING even though this guy broke several laws I have witnesses!
      As sad as it is here, I have become timid and cant stand the whites.

  2. Really? When a white person stands up for their child they are a great parent, When a black parent stands up for their child they are looking to get paid. Interesting double standard. I might even call it racist. There is a problem with racism in this school and the community as a whole, things we have brushed under the rug too long, in fear that it might make things worse for our children. Why are we so afraid to admit these things are happening and address them? Why the denial? If you don’t see it, perhaps it’s because it’s not happening to YOUR child…. doesn’t mean it’s not happening to ours. This needs to be addressed and taken seriously.

  3. So many people state their opinions without trying to know any of the facts. The coach knew what he did was wrong bcz he told the kid “what happens here stays here” and he also approached the kid the next day and tried to make the child recant his story with a false version he himself came up with. As far as money goes….if the school did nothing wrong….why would they, (if they are) decide to settle, instead of fighting it in court. Suwannee school system has ALWAYS been rascist and The ONES AFFECTED KNOW IT. “What has been done in the dark, has finally come to the light”.

  4. Most absurd thing I’ve listened to. Once again the facts are so far from the truth. Boys were suspended, boys went to court and are taking their consequences. The situation had nothing to do with hazing, bullying or racism. It was a simple fight that should not have happened. Did anyone ask the boy that got hit or any of the other ones how the boy had been being pushy for a couple of weeks? Did anyone ask the adults that were in the hallway that witnessed the incident as to what happened? The answer is no to both.
    Do fights happen at school? Yes. Are they normally taken to this level? No
    What about at Football practice? I bet there is some kind of fight on the practice field almost everyday. Do you see the office lined up with those students the next day? No. The coaches handle it on the field.
    Another thing that has come to light, it is now stated that the boy that got hit has a history of seizures and sickle cell anemia. His mother has stated that if he gets hit in the head it could cause major medical problems. Then why would you allow your son to even be in a contact sport. That baffles me because she is allowing him to be put in danger. Wow that is something to think about.
    Has this situation been blown out of proportion? Yes. All of the facts aren’t even out there .
    Boys have been suspended. Boys have gone to court and are taking their consequences. The one boy even approached the boy he hit and verbally apologized. That’s a fact and the mother knows it.
    Are there racial problems out in the communities? Yes, but not with everyone and they come from all sides. Does this have to do with race? Not in any way shape or form.
    Also when you talk about the community coming together it should be as one no matter race nor gender, but all I keep hearing is the black cimmunity. Now that does sound racist. It should be everyone looking out for Everyone.
    Praying for all involved.

    1. One of the best barometers that indicate racism is the Yearbook. What is the racial composition of the student government over the past ten years? Any Black Valedictorians? Any Black Salutatorians? What is the racial makeup of the students who participate in after school programs other than athletics, singing, and dancing. Furthermore, How many minorities taking the PSAT? SAT? What is the college attendance for minorities? What is the college outcome for minorities? What are the disciplinary consequences for White students? Black students? What does the special education population ethnicity look like? Etc. Any teachers who fight for equality? Any administrators who fight for equality?

  5. How are some people so sure that this was 100% NOT racially motivated?! You have no idea what was running through these kids minds. It’s absurd to assume you know whether it was or was not racially motivated. There clearly IS a problem with racism in the community. I have heard it first hand!

  6. Concerned individual it sounds like from the way you are speaking that you may be a parent of the individual that did the crime???? I mean how do you know what the mother of the victim knows???? Fact- it was PRE-SEASON the kids were not supposed to be physically wrestling, the coach never sent a permission slip home, nor requested a physical, so therefore the mother did not put her child in harms way. Fact- This was not a simple fight, Fact-15-16 students surrounded this kid bullied and taunted him by pushing and shoving him throughout the group, telling him he was in the wrong hood and calling him derogatory names before this violent of an aggressor senior punched him in the mouth twice. He SHOULD have apologized and obtained a record because he had no right to physically assault anyone. Fact-no where have I personally saw or heard anyone say just “the black community”. Fact- at the end of the day would any of this be had the AGGRESSOR never put his hands on someone else’s child, answer that, no wait I will, NO IT WOULD NOT BE. Sounds to me angry management needs to be sought for the offender.

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