A civil rights discrimination complaint has been officially filed with the State Department of Education against the Franklin County High School Board and its Director of Schools.

News 4 has been following this story for eight months. A Black woman reached out to our Call 4 Action team after starting a petition to change the colonel rebel mascot at her former high school.

It’s a battle that’s been going on since then. The battle has been filled with school board meetings and community events.

“One thing that became clear to me as an individual is that being silent is being complicit,” Franklin County resident Chris Colane said.

That’s what encouraged Colane to file a 62-page civil rights discrimination complaint, obtained by News 4, against the Franklin County School Board and the Director of Schools.

“I do feel like now, with the current events that are going on in our country. That perhaps now is the time where another thick layer of that onion needs to come off,” Colane said.

Colane was one of several people who went before the Franklin County School Board in October, asking them to remove the Colonel Rebel Mascot, the Dixie Fight Song, and the school seal, which Colane says in her complaint “resembles the confederate flag.”

“I had also requested that, and they had four months to do this. That they form a committee to have training within the school system about what systemic racism is. What it looks like and to promote sensitivity to systemic racism within the school system, and they did not do that,” Colane said.

The complaint also alleges that board members “failed to respond to phone calls, emails and letters” and they allegedly failed to “follow protocol and policies at public school board meetings.”

News 4 first told you about Shanae Williams in June 2020, a former Franklin County High School graduate who started a petition

“Whenever I first made the petition, like Chris said, there was a protest. For Black Lives Matter. So I said if Black Lives Matter, let’s show it. And that’s what I was asking from the Board,” Shanae Williams said.

“We have addressed and discussed all of the issues about the mascot. And the vote was taken, and the vote was 5 to 3,” Director of Schools Stanley Bean said.

Bean also told News 4 that the vote was taken back in October and understood that some don’t agree. Still, the district and board members answered all of the questions about their complaints.

News 4 asked Bean if the school district ever set up a racial sensitivity training or course.

“Uh, no, we did not. I have spoken to some people who have come in to discuss that. Kind of tied into Black History Month,” Bean said. “We, like a lot of other school systems, we’re trying to keep our head above water. A lot of changes we’ve had that have taken place here in the county with our educational system that’ve just put things on hold,” Bean said.

Even with the vote, Colane says the dissenting board members never gave a reason or explanation for their vote.

The Department of Education says the investigation is ongoing but cannot comment on the matter.

News 4 reached out to every board member by phone or email, and none responded to our requests.

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