The Fort Worth chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference filed a civil rights complaint with the Texas Education Agency against the Birdville school district, the Rev. Kyev Tatum, the chapter leader, said Friday.
Among Tatum’s chief concerns are the recent allegations of racist remarks made by Richland High softball coach Brenda Jacobson and the district’s handling of the situation, which resulted in a written reprimand.
But Tatum also wants State Education Commissioner Michael Williams to push toward changing Richland’s Rebel mascot, as well as the school-sponsored spirit groups, the Dixie Belles and Johnny Rebs. Tatum said both groups have clear associations with the Confederacy.
“Every day they call themselves the Dixie Belles and the Johnny Rebels. All they’re doing is perpetuating the Confederacy,” Tatum said. “Those groups only represent a segment of the community, not African-Americans or Latinos. We were never Dixie Belles. We were never Johnny Rebels. The rebellion was against people who wanted to end slavery.”
Tatum requested to meet with Birdville Superintendent Darrell Brown on Wednesday after Tatum announced that his group would be investigating the school district.
Brown responded in an email to Tatum that the allegations against Jacobson were “taken seriously, investigated thoroughly, and handled appropriately.”
“The investigation resulted in a complaint by one student, not several students,” Brown wrote. “Regardless, an appropriate response was put into action after the investigation was complete. I have every reason to believe that whatever issues may have existed in the past have been resolved.”
Jacobson was reprimanded by Richland Principal Carla Rix for “inappropriate communication.” Rix concluded that Jacobson “may have made inappropriate comments to students based on race or skin color.”
Brown and Jacobson could not be reached for comment.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760