Buford, GA – Buford City Schools Superintendent Geye Hamby resigned Friday morning after an audio recording surfaced that captured him in the midst of a racial tirade. In two separate phone calls, the district’s chief officer since 2006 repeatedly called African American construction workers at a school worksite, “niggers”.
In his resignation letter, Hamby apologized for actions that “may have” caused adversity. May have? While it is certain that his racial slurs caused adversity, it remains to be seen why that certainty is lost on Hamby. The audio recording surfaced at a time that Buford City School is facing a racial discrimination lawsuit, filed by Mary Ingram, a former paraprofessional educator at Buford Academy. The lawsuit Buford City Schools, Superintendent Geye Hamby, and Buford Academy Principal Kaleen Pulley. In it, Ingram is cite the district for racial discrimination and its retaliatory firing of her in the absence of “any” justification.
Facts about Buford City Schools (2017-2018 school year)
Enrollment: 4,330 students
Classroom Teachers (FTE): 268.10
Student/Teacher Ratio: 16.15
Source: IES National Center for Education Statistics
Buford, Ga.’s estimated population is 14,868 as of July 2017. Mostly situated in Gwinnett County, the racial/ethnic composition is: Caucasian/white – 73.3%; African American/black – 10.5%; American Indian/Alaskan Native – 0.2%; Asian – 2.9%; Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 0.0%; and Two or more races – 2.2%. Approximately 34.1% of Buford’s population is Hispanic/Latino ethnicity of any race.
Niche.com ranked Buford schools first among Georgia public school districts for 2018-2019. In 2015, the an audit report of the district found series areas of fiscal mismanagement. According to Gwinnett Post, the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts’ examination of 2014 records “found errors or areas that were disorganized or understaffed. Among the issues raised by the audit were misstatements related to special purpose local option sales tax funds that totaled $8.16 million”.
The recent lawsuit against Buford City Schools renews a number of stark realities about America’s educational systems, five decades past the landmark Supreme Court of the United States ruling in Brown v. Board. Namely,
- Sentiments about race in America remain and those sentiments exist in the minds of public education officials;
- To the extent that race matters, it’s ill-effects transcend personnel decisions, academic performance policy, curricula, contracting, etc;
- Lingering racial animus factors into housing re-segregation and other factors that ultimately result in re-segregated education;
- Racial undercurrent taints public policy discourse and erode public confidence on issues such as school vouchers;
- Hamby’s rise to Buford’s chief administrator for 12 years is indicative of weaknesses in institutional vetting practices;
- The struggle for educational justice is as necessary today, at a macro-level and in micro (i.e., daily) situations.
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