A North Kansas School District senior says the Winnetonka High School head basketball coach belittled him and made racially hostile remarks to students.
Marcus Williams Sr. and his son, Marcus Williams Jr., filed a racial harassment complaint with the school district Friday. District officials said they take the allegations against coach Derek Howard seriously.
He has been placed on paid leave while under investigation.
"We expect all students to be treated with respect by all staff at all times," Assistant Superintendent Dan Clemens said in a statement. "Administrators at the high school and district office have met with the student and his parents, and we are investigating thoroughly. This issue is a personnel matter and will be handled according (to) board policy."
KCTV5 could not reach Howard for comment.
The allegations are that Howard speaks either directly to or about African-American students in a negative and demeaning manner. Marcus Williams recorded via his cell phone his coach making a comment he says is typical.
The student said photography students asked him to pose for a picture in a high school hallway.
"He was doing a daily joG and he stopped and he said, 'Hey, take a picture and then at the bottom: future welfare recipient,'" the student said. "I just felt belittled, crushed and utterly discouraged."
Marcus Williams said this comment was typical of those he has endured for the past two years. So he grabbed his cell phone and asked his coach to repeat his remarks.
The coach can be heard laughing and saying, "Future welfare recipient who? Students that don't get good grades."
Williams was horrified that a teacher he trusted to oversee his son's education and is stunned by the allegations.
"My son has been carrying a baggage worth of two years of harassment... by someone who is bigger than him, who has more authority than him," Williams said.
Marcus Williams said he did not try out for basketball this year because Howard told African-American students that they would grow up to be laborers who made less than $30,000 annually.
"Countless times I told him, 'Hey, this is hurting my feelings and you should stop.' I guess he thinks I'm just a kid and he can do whatever he wants," Marcus Williams said.
He took his recording to the Winnetonka principal and played it. He said the coach apologized but the senior doubts the sincerity of Howard's words.
"I think he just apologized to take the heat off of him and I don't think he means what he says," Marcus Williams said.
Father and son want the coach removed from the high school and the coach to be barred from contacting the high school senior.
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