EDUCATION + SCHOOLS
SLC board member and former state senator ask residents to support former superintendent who allegedly faced racial discrimination
SALT LAKE CITY — Residents are being asked by SLC School Board member Mohamed Baayd and former State Senator James Evans to support former Superintendent Timothy Gadson in a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The board meetings’ purpose comes from alleged racial harassment Gadson endured forcing his resignation. Gadson only held his position for around a year.
“Unfortunately when [Gadson] came in, the board failed in actually supporting him and accomplishing the agenda of taking care of our students and our families,” Baayd said.
Gadson was placed on administrative leave last month, no explanation was given by the district. However, the board’s president and vice president did release a statement at the time citing confidentiality.
“While we have heard our community’s desire for more information, the Board is limited in our ability to confirm or deny the accuracy of any reported information due to our commitment to maintaining the confidentiality of our closed executive sessions,” the statement said.
Board member Mohamed Baayd gave testimony to Gadson facing racial harassment.
“The systemic racism and the institutional racism we have within our district, unfortunately, was not ready to receive a black leader who can actually lead a district in a different direction,” Baayd said in an interview with KSL-TV and KSL NewsRadio.
Thus far, he is the only board member speaking out in defense of Gadson.
More on how the superintendent’s resignation came to be
Baayd said the board received racially motivated complaints against the superintendent.
“As a black person, when I hear them, it’s like someone looking at me and saying, ‘We cannot accept you as who you are. Your culture, your behavior does not match what we are looking for here in our district,’” Baayd said in an interview with KSL-TV and KSL NewsRadio.
A letter to residents from Evans cosigned by local NAACP President Jeanetta Williams alleges Gadson faced a pressure campaign to get him to resign.
“We assert that the core of this campaign to force out Dr. Gadson is driven by individual board members upset that he has not acted on direction given directly by them to him,” the letter said. “This has led to an environment of intimidation, racial harassment, unfounded complaints, and secretive closed-door meetings to push him out without due process, and without cause.”
When asked about the letter and the allegations of racial harassment a school district spokesperson declined to comment and referred KSL to the statement released last month.
Evans has spoken out about his thoughts surrounding the alleged racial discrimination.
“You have an unprofessional board that is siding with their friends in administration and undermining the superintendent,” Evans said. “And then the backdrop to that is the racial discrimination component.”
The SLC School Board of Education President Melissa Ford and Vice President Nate Salazar released a statement regarding the situation.
A part of the statement read, “It is unfortunate that any board member would knowingly choose to talk about topics that may have been discussed in a closed meeting. While we have heard our community’s desire for more information, the Board is limited in our ability to confirm or deny the accuracy of any reported information due to our commitment to maintaining the confidentiality of our closed executive sessions.”
Before the public meeting Tuesday, the board with have a closed, executive session starting at 5 p.m.
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