NBC10 Philadelphia - Monique Braxton
Collingswood High School basketball coach Joe McLaughlin was fired in June, despite protests from former players and parents. The NAACP is now calling for an investigation into his dismissal. NBC10's Monique Braxton reports.
Attorney Dennis Young, who is representing a high school basketball coach who was fired last month, told NBC10 that for ten years "the coach was told to make the team whiter."
The NAACP is asking the New Jersey Attorney General to launch an investigation into the firing of Joe McLoughlin.
McLoughlin was fired in June after serving as the head basketball coach at Collingswood High School for 14 years and winning a state championship.
Dozens of current and former students as well as parents gathered at a heated school board meeting on June 25, to fight to save McLoughlin's job, but they were unsuccessful. The board made a unanimous vote to fire McLoughlin, but gave no official reason.
Supporters claim the school administration was upset that African American players got more time on the court than white players.
In a letter to the State Attorney General, the NAACP wrote, "Please accept this letter as a formal request for an independent investigation into the rampant but covert discrimination and civil rights violations occurring against African American students attending and/or participating in the sports program at Collingswood High School in Collingswood, New Jersey, including the participants in the boys and girls' basketball program."
Malcolm and Leslie Clark tell NBC10 both of their children, Myesha and Malik, were mistreated after they transferred to Collingswood High from Camden High. While both made the basketball team, their parents claim Myesha, who is 5-foot-11 and Malik, who is 6-foot-3, got very little playing time. They believe the school district forced McLoughlin to not play their children.
"I'm very happy that someone is finally getting involved," said Malcolm Clark, a parent of one of the students. "The reality is that it's 2012 and things like this should not be going on."
"I definitely think it was discrimination because of the fact that our children came to this school and transferred from Camden," said Leslie. "The girl's basketball coach as well as the boy's basketball coach were given directions not to play our children."
"I felt as though, just like the coach said, he played the best players," said Malcolm. "He was thankful that my child was there."
Attorney Joseph Betley, who represents the Collingswood School District, stated the following to NBC10:
The coach's firing has nothing to do with race or the color of the player's skin. I am not at liberty to discuss the reason with you.