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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Pender NAACP offers details of alleged racist acts by Pender High employees

WARNING: Click to see the unedited version of the pictures above, which contains the use of a racist slur. (Port City Daily’s edits in red.) Last week, a Pender High School basketball coach posted two documents revealing the alleged use of the N-word by two Pender High teachers. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Facebook)

BURGAW — Last week, a Pender High School basketball coach posted documents on Facebook that sparked two independent investigations into the alleged racist conduct of multiple teachers at the school.

On June 8, Ray Hankins posted photographs — one of a notepad and the other a screenshot of an email — revealing what he called two separate incidents. The notepad contained the word ‘n—–‘ in a column next to the names of two individuals. The email described a conversation between two teachers, one claiming the other had used the same word in her classroom, which upset one of her students.

“It has always been a hush environment to work in, not anymore,” Hankins said on Facebook. “Who am I to keep quiet? The people would love to hear your excuses.”

On Tuesday afternoon, hours before a planned protest at the Pender County Board of Education meeting, the president of the Pender County NAACP chapter discussed details of the two incidents.

Dante Murphy, president of the Pender County chapter of the NAACP, said these alleged details were confirmed by a conversation he had with Hankins, who is a black teacher at the school and the head coach of the boys’ basketball team.

“That document came out of a room where there was a meeting that only teachers and principals were in,” Murphy said, according to his conversation with Hankins.

Although he was not at the meeting and could not confirm who wrote the notes on the piece of paper, he said, “There is no dispute, according to what I’m hearing, that a teacher wrote it.”

Asked who told him this information, he said Hankins confirmed it during a conversation between the two men.

The email, he said, was sent after a conversation between two teachers, one of whom was “memorializing the conversation by sending the email.”

The email’s author explains that another teacher had stopped by his or her office and explained, “I had to send a student out today because he got mad when I said n—– he says it all the time I don’t see why he got offended when I said it.”

The email’s author writes that a student who was also in the office at the time, who had skipped the third period class of the teacher in question, responded in silence, along with the writer.

“She then goes to sit down at the other chair in my office and asked me why they won’t let us be nice. We are trying to help [redacted] still wouldn’t talk to her. She then jokingly [said] you weren’t as bad in reference to when I was a student here at Pender.”

According to Murphy, he also received a call from a parent of a Topsail High student claiming that “her child was being called the N-word in school by the students, and she said staff members would not do anything.”

But Murphy said he was asked to sit on the information because the parent feared that the student would “suffer retaliation for telling what was happening to her.”

He claimed this comes from a culture of intimidation. According to Murphy, an administrator confirmed that he had been pressured “in so many words to keep white parents happy.”

He would not reveal the administrator’s name or the school that he worked for, because the administrator feared losing his job.

NAACP calls for superintendent’s resignation after claiming cover-up

Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, Murphy made statements on Facebook saying that “corruption in our North Carolina public schools is real” and demanded why the county’s school board “took nine months for an ‘independent’ investigation into allegations of teachers using racial slurs.” He called for Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill’s termination for a failure to respond to these acts.

He then posted an article describing nine cover-up practices used by school officials to normalize child abuse, and said the article helped explain why Dr. Hill waited nine months to call for the investigation.

On Friday, June 12, Pender’s NAACP branch issued a statement that it had been notified of the “longstanding racism that existed within the Pender County Schools.”

“Most recently is evidence that white teachers, staff, and administrations have sought to cover up acts of racism that include, but not limited to, the use of racial slurs by white teachers, intimidation of staff, and other heinous acts,” according to the release.

The NAACP said it was also notified that a protest would take place at the Pender County Board of Education meeting at Topsail High School on Tuesday, June 16, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“It is apparent that school board lawyers and other entities are seeking to deceive the public and waste an indeterminate amount of money to cover these racist acts. The Pender County Branch NAACP encourages citizens from across the region to give full support to the Black Lives Matter Movement and halt these egregious acts within the Pender County Schools,” according to the statement.

On Monday, Murphy issued a statement calling for the resignation of Dr. Hill. He listed the following reasons, including allegations of sexual misconduct:

  • “A lack of urgency in responding to evidence that white teachers openly used racial slurs.
  • The abusive use of attorneys in covering up child sexual misconduct occurring within the schools.
  • The abusive use of attorneys in covering up child sexual misconduct occurring within the schools.
  • A culture of intimidation and fear by administrators speaking out against racism in the district.
  • Wasteful spending and suspicious contracting with attorneys totaling millions of dollars over just a few years.”

He said he continued to support the planned protest, and urged board members to support this demand and “spare our community the trauma derived from a long and intense fight of making our schools safe for all students.”

Pender Schools calls for two investigations, one federal

The reaction of Pender County Schools to the most recent outcry came swiftly.

More than three hours after Hankins posted the two documents to his Facebook page, PCS issued a statement that it was aware of “an employee’s social media post indicating inappropriate racial comments by a peer staff member,” — although Hankins clarified in the post that the documents revealed two separate incidents by two separate parties.

“An immediate inquiry into the two posted documents is taking place and all related historical records are being gathered. Furthermore, due to the sensitive nature of this topic with regard to ongoing protests occurring around the world, the Board of Education is authorizing the superintendent to engage an independent third-party investigator,” according to PCS.

Protests have spread throughout the United States and Europe, and as far away as Tokyo, in response to the Minneapolis Police killing of George Floyd on May 25.

During a special meeting last Thursday, June 11, the Pender County Board of Education voted to hire a Raleigh law firm, Blue LLP, to conduct an independent investigation of Hankins’ allegations. A statement issued the following day by PCS said that the firm would have access to school system records.

“The Board insisted on moving forward to take immediate action, once the allegations were made,” according to the statement. The board’s chairman, Don Hall, said “we need to get to the bottom of this quickly and in a way that will instill public confidence.”

On Sunday, Chairman Hall announced that the board had requested a separate, independent investigation by the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

For tips and comments, contact the reporter at or (970) 413-3815

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