School & District Management

Broward Board Member’s Use of Racial Slur Fuels Calls For Resignation

By Christina A. Samuels — March 22, 2011 1 min read
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When Broward County school board member Ann Murray ran for office, she said her experience as a 32-year employee in the district’s transportation department gave her a unique view of the challenges faced by the 257,000-student district.

But now she’s under fire for using the n-word around coworkers, prompting a written reprimand in 2007, a year before she ran for the board. The story was originally broken by The Daily Pulp, a blog published by the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. From the article:

While working at the board's base of operations at Calder Race Track for that game held between the Giants and Patriots, Murray—a white woman who speaks in a heavy accent from her native Boston—was speaking with fellow supervisor Lisa Spince, who is white, about going to a previous Dolphins football game at what is now called Sun Life Stadium. Nearby were three black school bus drivers. Spince reported in a written statement to the board that Murray said: "Do you remember when a group of us from transportation came down to watch a Bills game? Yeah, they had us up in [n-word] heaven." Spince, who now works for a school district in Georgia, told me that she was "shocked and offended" at what she'd heard and that the black bus drivers appeared visibly upset. She asked Murray, "What did you say?" Murray then said, "You know, way up at the top of the stadium."

The story goes on to detail the response of the district and Murray’s admission of using the term as part of her written reprimand. Roland Foulkes, the chairman of the district’s diversity committee, has asked for Murray to resign, as has a member of the Broward Democratic Black Caucus. Murray has apologized for the incident.

This situation is only the latest buffeting that the Broward school board has faced. In February, a 51-page grand jury report found that the district was rife with corruption: “The evidence we have been presented concerning the malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance of the Broward County School Board and of the senior management of the Broward County School District, and of the gross mismanagement and apparent ineptitude of so many individuals at so many levels is so overwhelming that we cannot imagine any level of incompetence that would explain what we have seen.”

The school board voted Monday to adopt a new ethics policy and to conduct an early evaluation of Jim Notter, the superintendent.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.