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Testimony wraps in EBR reverse discrimination trial

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Posted: Apr 21, 2011 6:35 PM by Michael Shingleton
Updated: Apr 21, 2011 6:35 PM
Source: WBRZ

  Rating: 5.0 (1 vote)

Topics: gary, burnett, trail, against, east, baton, rouge, parish, school, board, system, principal, wilbert, august

BATON ROUGE - The testimony in a reverse racial discrimination wrapped up late Thursday afternoon. Closing arguments will be held on April 29, 2011 followed by Judge Wilson Fields decision on May 5, 2011.

Five East Baton Rouge Parish School System witnesses took the stand including a former human resources employee testifying against former Glen Oaks head football coach Gary Burnett's claim that he was dismissed as head football coach and athletic director by Principal Wilbert August because he was white.

In court Elizabeth Swinford, a former East Baton Rouge Parish human resources employee, testified about a letter Burnett delivered to the school system. It detailed a payroll discrepancy Burnett had after he was dismissed as head football coach. The letter also alleged instances of racial discrimination Burnett said he endured while at the school.

The school system said they investigated the payroll discrepancy, but never officially looked into the discrimination.

"I'm absolutely shocked that an employee in this school system can walk in with a written compliment saying I'm being discriminated against. I'm being subjected to a hostile environment and you just had the associate superintendent of this school system say we did nothing... Nothing," Burnett's attorney Jill Craft said.

But EBR school system attorney Karen Murphy said the school system investigated the original intent of the letter.

"Based on Mr. Burnett's request at the end of that letter that his pay be reinstated to when it was cut off, he mentioned in the letter that Mr. August made this statement but that by itself is not necessarily enough to prove of disprove discrimination," Murphy said.

Burnett's attorney Jill Craft said the school system is suppose to investigate all claims of racial discrimination.

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