‘This will be what does it’: Former Effingham Co. teacher comments on Civil Rights lawsuit

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 10:51 PM EST
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EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A Civil Rights lawsuit filed against Effingham County Schools does not come as a surprise to a former teacher.

In fact, the teacher resigned last year because of how the district handled racial incidents.

Clint Tawes works in another district now and part of why he resigned is because he felt the district was trying to silence people of color. He considers himself to be a person of color. Tawes is Native American.

The Confederate flag is the first symbol many students see heading into Effingham County High School.

“The school culture is built on symbols of white supremacy,” said Former English Teacher Clint Tawes.

Clint Tawes is a former English teacher there who resigned because he said it became more than just a symbol.

“When it interfered with my ability to teach and I was being told to redirect students for expressing their opinions and Black lives matter has no place where a Confederate flag does,” he said.

With the Civil Rights lawsuit against the district, he thinks back to the day before he submitted his resignation. The January 6th attack had just happened. He was watching and students came in reacting to it.

Tawes said, “a student asked why aren’t they being arrested? An African American female student made the very correct and obvious observation. She said if they were Black they would be.”

He said the school’s current principal told him he should’ve corrected the student and going off topic, said anything controversial including “Black lives matter” had no place there.

“The concerns of Black and brown parents about the Confederate flag and culture associated with that have been ignored for years and years, but when one white parent made a complaint about a very trivial statement that a Black student made...I was called into the office.”

He said the incidents detailed in the suit...racist graffiti, racist remarks like the n* word do not surprise him...though a teacher saying it does. While he never heard or saw it, he heard of other situations.

“I had students complain to me about the administration unfairly targeting Black students.”

Tawes said students wearing Black lives matter have been denied entry to after school games. He said the district didn’t intend on making changes when he left but this might be the push they need.

“If things are ever going to change in Effingham County, for the students of Effingham County, specifically for the Black and brown students...If things are ever going to change, this will be what does it.”

WTOC did reach out to the district for comment on the accusations in the resignation letter and for a response to the lawsuit.

They received the request but have not commented.