James T. Ingram

East St. Louis School District 189 Superintendent Arthur Culver has been sued (along with the ESL Board of Education) in a five-count federal lawsuit by fired employee Yvette L. Jackson. Jackson alleges that Culver made sexually explicit remarks about Jackson and other school district staff, made “repeated unwelcome advances,” including one occasion in which Culver allegedly “sat atop Plaintiffs’ (Jackson’s) desk and opened his legs positioning his crotch directly in Plaintiffs’ face.”

The lawsuit goes on to describe an alleged incident on April 1, 2018 in which Culver purportedly showed Jackson a pornographic video of a male school district employee engaging in an alleged sex act with two other individuals, then making a lewd remark about his own personal sexual preferences.

On April 2, 2018, Jackson reported Culver to the district purchasing adviser, after which time Jackson claims she was systematically excluded from meetings and ostracized. When the next personnel committee meeting was convened, the meeting agenda was allegedly amended to eliminate Jackson’s job after 20 years of employment with District 189, all according to the suit.

“Our clients vehemently deny Plaintiff’s claims and intend to vigorously defend against same,” Garrett Hoerner, attorney for Culver and the school board, responded in a written statement that. “I fully expect Plaintiff’s complaint will be dismissed by the Federal District Court.”

Despite these allegations, Stanley Franklin, president of the East St. Louis NAACP, will present Culver with the “Education and Commitment” award during its recent 65th Annual Freedom Fund Awards Banquet.

And the banquet crowd demonstrated their disappointment with muted and sparse slow claps of disapproval. The district’s poor academic record alone should have disqualified Culver from receiving any such honor and the unresolved sexual allegations should definitely have caused the NAACP to pump their brakes on bestowing the honor period.

It was a low point for an otherwise inspirational evening as civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis gave a very dynamic and uplifting keynote speech.

However, this isn’t Franklin and the NAACP’s first questionable awarding of honors. During its 2014 banquet, three out four scholarship recipients were non-black students who attended the prestigious GovernorFrenchAcademy, a prep school in Belleville.

So optics and the appearance of blatant support for alleged impropriety obviously mean nothing to Franklin and the ESL NAACP, who have long abandoned the “advancement of colored people.”

That begs the question: What message are we sending to our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters when such allegations are dismissed as irrelevant and inconsequential? How does that “advance” them?

Yes, Culver deserves his day in court to defend himself against these charges. However, until that day, couldn’t the NAACP have allowed the process to play out before prematurely awarding an alleged sexual predator? What was the rush?

Email: jtingram_1960@yahoo.com; Twitter@JamesTIngram.

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