A community college in Kansas is at the center of lawsuits alleging racism : NPR


A Kansas group school president is below fireplace for evaluating a Black scholar athlete to Hitler. Lawsuits accuse the president of a concerted effort to shrink the Black scholar physique on the faculty.



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In rural Kansas, lawsuits alleging racial hostility are sending a group school into upheaval. As Frank Morris of member station KCUR reviews, the state of affairs boiled over lately when the president of the school in contrast a Black soccer participant to Hitler.

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: Highland, Kan., is a city of 1,000 surrounded by rolling cornfields within the northeast nook of the state – one gasoline station, no stoplights. However the scholar physique at Highland Neighborhood Faculty is numerous because of athletes right here on scholarship like Aiden Moore from Louisville, Ky.

AIDEN MOORE: It was actually my final likelihood. , I had curiosity of big-time colleges, however I simply did not have the grades.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: What’s up?

MOORE: What’s up? How’s it going?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Not dangerous, man.

MORRIS: After class, college students pile into Moore’s dorm room. All of them are Black, all right here to play soccer. However many have simply been reduce from the staff. KeJuan Carson from Auburn, Ala., says it occurred to him after simply asking permission to skip one follow to complete an English paper.

KEJUAN CARSON: And I assumed the whole lot was cool. However afterward that day, that is when individuals began telling me I bought kicked off the staff.

MORRIS: B.J. Smith, former Highland ladies’s basketball coach, says sudden extreme punishment for Black athletes began in 2019. That is when Highland employed a brand new president and a brand new athletic director who Smith says instantly laid down the regulation.

B J SMITH: His actual phrases had been, I wanted to recruit extra youngsters the tradition of our group might relate to. I mentioned, I actually do not know what you imply. What are you saying? And he very aggressively mentioned, precisely what I am saying.

MORRIS: From then on, Smith alleges the varsity has appeared for excuses to punish Black gamers. Smith misplaced his job in 2020 and lately sued the varsity together with two assistant coaches, alleging a sustained assault on Black college students. Highland President Deborah Fox issued a press release strongly denying the allegations and asserting that just about half the scholar athletes at Highland are Black, similar as when Smith left nearly two years in the past.

Nobody representing the varsity would remark for this story. However Ryan Kuhnert, a 2009 Highland graduate, says the varsity values range.

RYAN KUHNERT: It was probably the most Black individuals I might ever encountered in my life, being from a small farm city. And it was an incredible studying expertise for me.

MORRIS: On the one restaurant on the town, farmer Jerry Blevins says Highland Faculty is simply attempting to strengthen its ties to the group.

JERRY BLEVINS: The explanation why they need Kansas youngsters – it has nothing to do with Black or white. They need native youngsters – so with their mother and father and household and stuff.

MORRIS: However race relations is a really sensitive topic right here, and as Blevins is speaking, one other man walks over and motions to my microphone.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Really, the very best factor you do to place that [expletive] away and get in your [expletive] automobile and go down the street.

MORRIS: Rigidity spiked when a recording surfaced with Highland Faculty President Deborah Fox likening a Black soccer participant to Hitler, who she referred to as, quote, “an incredible chief.” Fox says she meant that the participant was misdirecting his personal appreciable management skills. She apologized for the horrible analogy, however injury was carried out.

ANN MYERS: That was a nasty, dangerous name. I felt disgusted as a human being.

MORRIS: That is Ann Myers, who despatched her son Dominic Perks to Highland Faculty when he was simply 17. In his second yr, Perks argued with a campus safety guard. He was expelled the subsequent day. {The teenager} referred to as his mom, all of a sudden kicked off campus, locked out of his dorm and stranded 5 hours from his residence in St. Louis.

MYERS: It nonetheless bothers me. At that current second, I could not defend him.

MORRIS: Myers says Highland Neighborhood Faculty dealt her son a severe setback. Now the varsity itself is below shut scrutiny and struggling to point out that it is a stepping stone for Black scholar athletes, not a spot the place their sports activities and tutorial careers go to die.

For NPR Information, I am Frank Morris in Highland, Kan.

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