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A VOICE OF REASON — about Jim Pappas

January 24, 2011

Because there has been little or no public voice of reason about this tragic situation in Orange County Schools from the administration or anyone else in the media, we are posting a column from the Herald-Sun here that actually uses reason to discuss the issues at hand.  We have avoided discussing the issue so far, worried that the Superintendent and Board would use any comment of ours as fodder for their already personal agenda against Coach Pappas and Cedar Ridge to justify their warped administrative decisions.  But with the decision a fait accompli (seemingly so before any “investigation” occurred), we have a lot to say.

Not known to many is that in 2008, a message was sent that demanded that Coach Pappas and other administrators at Cedar Ridge “get on board” with the firing of Laurie Calder-Green or “that Pappas, Thornburg, and Cedar Ridge would be thrown under the bus with Calder-Green.” And three years later, they all have. So their recent comment, “Throughout this process, the school system has sought to be fair, and to be clear about what is not acceptable conduct,” smacks of the worst kind of hypocrisy and betrayal of their responsibilities.

And we’re not sure whether or not to be more offended by the content or the grammar of Gwendolyn Jordan’s quote published in the editorial of the malcontent Day Way:

“Gwendolyn Jordan, president of the Northern Orange Branch of the NAACP, is not impressed with the district’s response.

“The coach just had a paid vacation. That didn’t hurt him, and I think the mood is that nothing’s going to happen,” she said. “If a student had of did that to another student, he would have been automatically expelled, not given one day off to go to Disneyland.”

Seriously, now, even those who have used their personal grievances against Coach Pappas to jump in the fray probably don’t believe there was any intent of racism (which an investigation should have been legally dealing with), much less that this man has been in a metaphorical Disneyland while suspended. They are just feeding off the insanity, which all lesser people do.

And we have lots more to say about the real reasons that Jim Pappas was removed from coaching — which has nothing to do with his “punishment” over what is actually an insensitive remark, classified by those with their own agendas as a racist comment.  In fact, many have heard the father, Mr. Cameron, comment that he wanted “his [Pappas]  job” because of the father’s own personal racist problems at his job — transferring that emotion and retribution to this situation.  And the spokespeople for the Northern Orange County associations who are supposed to be advocating for change and progress want the same type of retribution for all past, present, and future racism to be laid at Pappas’ feet.  The delusional statement,  “‘I was hoping that we as a nation have moved beyond this'” with the election of Barack Obama as the first black president” is almost as hilarious as the idea that the administration was going to have to make a “hard” decision — Ms. Thompson, this administration thought Christmas had come early when a lone parent came in demanding Pappas’ job.

But administrators and school boards are held to a higher standard — and they are supposed to act in a way that is constructive, not personal or retributive.  Parents and community members naturally respond with personal baggage — educational administration should not; in fact, they are supposed to create a framework for using reason rather than emotion that students can emulate.

What has been accomplished?  A man of integrity who refused to “jump on board” and lie 3 years ago (or since) has lost a third of his income from the coaching and athletic director part of his profession that was IN NO WAY INVOLVED in this matter — the insensitive comment occurred during his teaching.

So let’s review — what are we saying?  That teaching is less important than coaching?  Instead of teaching part of the day, you will now teach all day because we no longer trust you to work with students in a coaching capacity? — that’s your punishment?  The lack of logic in that decision reflects the personal vengeance in the “punishment” — not the logical contemplation of weighing a remark with years of service, past or future, and doing what is best for children.  Administration knows that Pappas has devoted his life to coaching and athletics, that he runs one of the cleanest athletic programs in N.C., and that he is one of the most successful and honored coaches in the state; in taking that away from him they hope he will go away and they can send a message to every employee to “get on board” or “get out.”  And is it just coincidence that Coach Pappas’ replacement is an African-American teacher who has close ties with the superintendent and board members?  Surely that didn’t weigh in deciding to take coaching away rather than another type of corrective action.

It is now time for parents, students, and community members to speak to the Board and to deny the “open season” on educators (especially at Cedar Ridge) — that we expect the superintendent and board to act in a way that is progressive and positive, not vengeful, personal, retributive.  Their decision has only opened a gulf of hard feelings and resentment. Their decision says that educators cannot be the naturally fallible humans that all of them are — that their careers can and will be ruined by any one of their mistakes — mistakes each of them make daily — but especially if they aren’t “on board the bus” with the administration.

What a wonderful “teachable moment” for students and even the community we have lost — how do we move forward when educators make an insensitive remark? Students are not as Ms. Jordan would claim, “expelled” immediately for insensitive remarks (by the way, Ms. Jordan, our “expelled” students are sent on taxpayer all-expenses-paid vacation to Washington, D.C., not Disneyland – check it out from last year);  instead, they are counseled and taught would how their words could be construed and cautioned about the best way to promote tolerance and acceptance.  This lesson teaches intolerance and malice — a kind of “gotcha” mentality that doesn’t help any -ISM.

Will the administration wreak the same type of punishment on coaches and educators who make sexist remarks, like using “you play/act like a girl” to their male players? Or “Just stand over there and look pretty” (overheard by a male teacher to a female student)? Or the use of the term “bitch” to women?  — historical comments such as these and many other ingrained sexist comments and actions like those are used daily … and are also used to maintain male “economic, social and political supremacy over” females in our society (to use  the Herald-Sun’s Childress’ characterization of the Pappas remark).

The actions of this superintendent, endorsed implicitly by this board, are neither fair nor acceptable.  They should all resign.

Here is the article — it is certainly worth the read:

Cedar Ridge AD treated unfairly

By Peyton Mahaffey

Guest Columnist

The article by Gregory Childress that appeared in the Dec. 16 Herald-Sun (Cedar Ridge AD demoted) was as noteworthy for its regurgitation of repeated, unsworn hearsay and shallow hyperbole that has been typical of the coverage of this story as it was for the glaring omission of the kind of facts and observations that typically are included in balanced and fair journalism.

Pappas’ 33-year record of academic and athletic achievements, fairness, integrity and respect were never mentioned.

Of particular relevance to the issue before the Orange County Board of Education was the fact that during his illustrious 33-year career in North Carolina high school education, not a single complaint of racism, discrimination or harassment of any kind was ever lodged against Coach Pappas.

It is fair to say that Coach Pappas has personally coached and worked closely with over 100 coaches and staff, and more than 4,700 students across all sports in his 33-year career. A significant majority of the families and student athletes he interacted with daily were African American or other minorities. And this number increases dramatically if one includes the substantially larger number of coaches and student athletes Coach Pappas has overseen in his more than 17 years as athletic director for all sports at Northwood and Cedar Ridge high schools.

To state it more bluntly, Jim Pappas does not have a racist bone in his body. To the contrary, as the second son of Greek immigrants himself, he knows full well the sting of intentional ethnic and racially motivated actions.

There must be intent before a remark can be characterized as deliberately malicious, racist or malevolent. The absence of any evidence of such intent was omitted completely from your coverage, as was the fact that no person who knows Jim Pappas, or knows of his many selfless actions on behalf of North Carolina student athletes — regardless of their race or ethnic origin — has ever asserted him to be racist in any manner whatsoever. His record of equal treatment of players and students speaks for itself, as does the absence of any prior incident or complaint of this nature.

The disproportionate and unjustified school board action wasted an opportunity for all parties to deal with the situation constructively, learn from it, and move forward in a constructive manner.

The applicable Board of Education policies provide that after the complaint was lodged with Principal Wheeler, he was allowed five days to conduct his investigation and meet with the complainant to discuss the disciplinary action he deemed appropriate under the circumstances. That process was circumvented. The speed with which this parent complaint was addressed — first with Mr. Pappas, then Principal Wheeler, then the superintendant’s office (and presumably the board itself), not to mention the media (a total of three business days) — suggests an agenda was being pursued that was wholly unrelated to the specific facts and context of the Nov. 4 comment in question.

The comments attributed in the media (“I want more than a suspension. I want his job …”) show that a reasonable, factual investigation pursuant to school board policy, followed by a proportionate and appropriate response from the principal, superintendent, or the board itself was never the objective of others — but it was the sworn responsibility of the Orange County Board of Education — a responsibility that the board, and particularly Superintendent Rhodes, ignored.

No reasonable person would debate the fact that Coach Pappas’ remark, which he readily acknowledged, was insensitive. It should not be overlooked that as soon as the complaint was lodged on Nov. 5, Coach Pappas immediately apologized to the parents and to the student. It became public knowledge within days that he had been suspended with pay.

To his credit, Coach Pappas has not publicly defended himself, nor taken issue with The Herald-Sun’s repeated references to a more inflammatory remark instead of the remark that Coach Pappas readily admitted and immediately apologized for. There is not a single coach or student athlete who has ever worked with Jim Pappas who doubts that what Mr. Pappas said in a thoughtless flip remark is not who he is. Good people do say careless things. But to paraphrase the great Martin Luther King, “the content of one’s character” is not reasonably judged by a single insensitive remark — except apparently by Superintendent Rhodes and the Orange County Board of Education.

Comparisons abound to the rush to judgement and ill-advised, erroneous pre-conceptions that led a shamed Duke University president and a now-disgraced and disbarred prosecutor to ruin the lives and careers of student athletes, only to make fools of themselves in the eyes of a fair-minded public, and martyrs of the falsely accused and excessively punished students.

Lastly, the Herald-Sun’s coverage of this story missed something else. It neglected to mention that current and former players, both Caucasian and African American, rightly question the twisting of words by others of Coach Pappas’ admittedly insensitive remark in pursuit of unstated, but thinly veiled agendas. Jim Pappas’ well-deserved reputation as a man of integrity, character and selflessness will survive intact among players, parents, and others who know him — both African American and Caucasian.

But the superintendent and the board made the grave mistake of dispensing disproportionate discipline. Sacrificing a good man for a single insensitive remark should and will raise legitimate questions among all Orange County teachers, administrators and coaches about the absence of support from Superintendent Rhodes and the Board of Education in tough situations, especially when it is easier to take political cover by adopting the mob mentality than to do what is right.

Sacrificing fundamental fairness for political expediency is obviously alive and well at the Orange County Board of Education.

R. Peyton Mahaffey is president and managing partner of the law firm of McCandlish Lillard, who has practiced law, including an expertise in employment litigation, for over 30 years.

Read more: The Herald-Sun – Cedar Ridge AD treated unfauirly


October 27, 2010

While the superintendent may have convinced himself (and announced to the world) that Orange County Schools had a “clean bill of health,” the truth is that there is a festering disease of “good old boys” and gender discrimination that defies Title IX and contaminates the athletic opportunities that should be available to all.

The women in this county are not stupid and we won’t tolerate our daughters being treated as second class citizens.

The “clean bill of health” is actually a poorly-compiled work of fiction, written in part by the inaccurate and incomplete data that this Board of Education and Superintendent supplied the Office of Civil Rights.

That OCS administration and Board did not respond to the Title IX inquiry with a genuine concern for seeking the truth is troublesome ethically; they should have immediately welcomed any support that the Office of Civil Rights was willing to give during MEDIATION and corrected any problems that this federal office saw as needing improvement (and avoid the legal expenses).

That they hired lawyers and spent over $50,000 of taxpayer money to intimidate witnesses, hide witnesses by eliminating them from the witness list, and using the “reprimanded-by-the-bar” Richard Schwartz to thwart the inquiry rather than, again, trying to insure equal opportunity, reveals an even more ethically troublesome quality.

The OCR investigators are complicit as well in that they allowed OCS and Schwartz to corrupt the inquiry and refuse to supply information.

It’s a lengthy process but I was informed on July 1, 2010 that the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement is going to review our complaint “to ensure that OCR’s decisions were in conformance with the laws and regulations enforced by OCR.” Oh, and, by the way, they don’t just automatically review appeals filed by complainants.

And for those who wish to dismiss the complaint by connecting it to the firing of the volleyball and basketball coaches — this OCR complaint has nothing to do with that firing — their cases are separate and pending.  This complaint was filed — and its appeal —  in reaction to the current Board’s and Superintendent’s lack of support, and in fact, its attack, on equal opportunities for female athletes in this county.

And if you question that this leadership has now — or has in the past — ignored equal participation for girls, then look at Chapel Hill schools — or Wake County schools — and the athletic participation numbers, opportunities, and sports offered — and success — for their young women.  We maintain that our girls are not inferior in any way to theirs — but that our leadership has not provided the same support and competitive opportunities that those districts have.

for a copy of the appeal, click here:


act now – support the high school athletic data bills and Share Your Story!

October 24, 2010

Girls Sports Still Need Champions — Share Your Story

Girls’ Sports Still Needs Champions


Are girls getting a fair shot at sports in your community?
Please take a moment to tell us about your experiences.

A girl that plays sports wins both on the field and off. She’ll have a decreased chance of developing heart disease, obesity, and other health-related problems. She’s more likely to delay teen sexual activity and pregnancy and to abstain from smoking or using drugs.

Athletics gives girls higher self confidence and increases the chances that they will attend college. The advantages of sports are truly endless, but without fair opportunities to participate, girls can’t reap these benefits. This is why we need your help!

Consider a few questions about girls’ access to sports opportunities in your community:

  • Is there a sport that a girl wants to play that her school does not offer?
  • Are there fewer sports for girls to choose from?
  • Are the fields girls practice on in bad condition?
  • Are practice and game times for girls very early or late?
  • Do male athletes have more perks — better locker rooms, tutors, nicer uniforms, etc.?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, your school may not be giving girls a fair shot. We need to hear from you!

This year, many girls — possibly the ones in your hometown — will not receive equal opportunities to play sports, and will receive inferior benefits (equitable fields, practice and game times, and support) when they do play. Their stories should be heard. There are so many reasons to support girls, and they deserve a fair chance to play.

Have you, a family member, or friend experienced this kind of unfair treatment? We want to hear stories from parents, coaches, and students about the struggles girls in your community face in school sports programs.

Thank you for your support!


Neena Chaudhry Neena Chaudhry
Senior Counsel
National Women’s Law Center

Support Equal Treatment in Athletics

Support Equal Treatment in Athletics

One way to shine a spotlight on the problems that women and girls still face in athletics is to require schools to publicly disclose gender equity information about their athletics programs. A federal law requires colleges to make such information publicly available each year, but high schools are not required to disclose these data, making it difficult to ensure fairness in high school athletics programs. The high school data bills currently pending in the House and Senate would strengthen Title IX. These critical bills would require high schools to publicly disclose data regarding their male and female athletic programs, including athletic participation rates and expenditures on teams, in order to provide parents and students with this important information.


Learn More

Interesting Posts Found on Title IX Blog

September 30, 2010

Monday, May 03, 2010

North Carolina High School Cleared of Title IX Charges

After school officials at Cedar Ridge High School in Orange County, N.C., decided to terminate the highly successful volleyball coach, Laurie Calder-Green, and replace her with a less experienced male coach, parents there filed a complaint with OCR, claiming that Orange County Schools discriminated against high school girls and their coaches by paying the coaches less, providing less qualified coaches and not working to recruit and retain their coaches. But after an 18 month investigation, OCR has determined that both county high school athletic programs comply with Title IX.

In its investigation report, OCR acknowledged that the “that the complainant disagrees with the district’s termination of a particular coach.” But, it continued, “termination of one coach is an insufficient basis on which to find that the district has denied girls equitable opportunities with respect to coaching, and there is no other evidence that supports such a finding.”

Notably, however, OCR’s conclusion that the firing of this particular coach deny girls equal opportunities with respect to coaching does not address whether the school’s decision to fire the coach was itself discrimination, either directly or in retaliation for voicing concerns about perceived discrimination. A lawsuit addressing such claims is certainly possible.
Posted by EBuz at 7:40 AM

I certainly don’t need to add anything. People with no connection or affiliation of any kind to this issue in NC find the “clean bill of health” to be questionable. This entry was followed by :

Question the parentheses

I, too, read the news that Orange County, North Carolina schools had been given a clean Title IX bill of health. This article from the Chapel Hill News goes so far as to say that any statistical disparities favored girls–but not the detriment of boys.
Notes the writer: “[girls’] coaches were paid more than coaches of boys’ teams when compared to the proportion of students participating in athletics by sex (excluding football).” (emphasis added)
So this is a little confusing. Orange County clearly met one of the three prongs regarding equitable opportunities. But it was not necessarily proportionality. How does this affect our understanding of the above statement? (And as Erin noted, just because it seems that salaries are equitable, does not mean there was not discrimination against the one fired coach–the catalyst for this investigation.) And more importantly, why was football excluded from these calculations? And how many other statistics do not include football?
I haven’t been able to find any answers yet, but would love to be enlightened.
Posted by kris at 9:08 AM

Awfully quiet this time

September 17, 2010

How interesting.  It seems that there may be another parent/booster club money controversy in Orange County.   But this time, no informing of the media by Orange County Schools.  No press release.  No statements by Donna Brinkley.  No mention of the involvement of the sheriff’s department.  Two situations in the last few months that are very similar. No release of audits to the public.  One gets tons of press in the midst of a political campaign.  The other—not a word.

Certainly Orange County Schools’ administration wouldn’t use smear tactics in one case and attempt to avoid public notice in the second?  Certainly Orange County Schools’ administration is always open and above board and out front in informing the public concerning public funds.   When the election took place, the new board members were all about openness and fiscal accountability.  What is their stance now?  Awfully quiet this time.

Our Daughters, Ourselves: On ‘Women’s Equality Day,’ a Reality Check

August 28, 2010
by Jessica Bennett and Jesse EllisonAugust 26, 2010

Ninety years ago today, the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting women the right to vote. It was revolutionary, for the time—Alice Paul, then a young political activist, was beaten, imprisoned, and force-fed for simply daring to say that women be engaged in political process. But if our grandmothers were born into a world where they weren’t allowed to have a political voice, what will the world look like for today’s young women? On the anniversary of women’s suffrage, a reality check:

* Today a young girl will learn that while she may be able to vote for president, she still probably won’t be one. Even the 3-year-old daughter of NEWSWEEK’s own (outgoing) editor knows this: after the 2008 election, she coolly informed her historian father that “girls can’t be president.” Ouch. Those faces on our dollar bills—42 men, not a single woman—really say it all.

* She’ll have to work harder if she wants to enter into politics, too. Sarah Palinmay call herself a feminist, but women still hold just 16.8 percentof seats in Congress, and there are fewer than 20female world leaders presently in power.

* She probably already lives on a street named after a man, as one study revealed. But maybe that won’t be terribly surprising—the vast majority of what she’s already watching on television each day is a fluid stream of men and more men. Of the 250 top-grossing movies produced last year, just 7 percentwere directed by women; on-screen female protagonists are few and far between.

* If she watches the news, especially the elite Sunday morning political shows, she’ll see white men in dark suitsalmost exclusively. Last year just 20 of the 148 experts to sound off on those programs were female. It’s the same in print. Just 24 percent of quoted “sources” around the world are female. The implicit message? Expertise is male.

* She’ll realize quickly that she’s going to be held to a double standard (in more ways than one), and she’s surely going to be judged on her looks. That, of course, will follow her all the way into adulthood—and her profession. As 61 percent of corporate recruiters recently told NEWSWEEK, a woman who shows off her figure is more likely to get ahead, but also more likely to be punished.

* That matters in particular because she’ll probably have a male boss. Women may make up a majority of the workforce—and graduate from college and graduate school at higher rates than men—but over time they steadily “vaporize” from the higher echelons of corporate leadership. Women remain just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and less than a quarter of law partners.

* She’ll probably watch her mother spend just as much time at work as her father but make less money—no matter the field—and once she gets home, she’ll do eight hours more houseworka week than her husband.

* To learn that all of this is happening, she’ll probably read the news. But most bylines she’ll see will be male—because even though women have made up the majority of journalism graduates since 1977, just one in seven news articlesis written by a woman.

* She probably won’t know any of these statistics, or even that not so long ago women like her couldn’t vote. Why? Women’s history is just a slim chapter in American history books. But not knowing their history means not understanding their present, which might mean not being prepared to fight. How’s that for “Women’s Equality Day”?

Find the authors at The Equality Myth.

Cedar Ridge names women’s basketball coach and football coach

June 9, 2010

Welcome back Coach Jeremy Heinhold to Cedar Ridge and to women’s basketball.  Everyone is excited to have you back! — link to football coach announcement on High School OT —  Joe Kilby, from Leesville Road, is the new football coach. Welcome!

Hopefully, High School OT and other news media will soon have a link for the coach of the young ladies!