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Academic Magnet Parents Filed A Lawsuit, Accused Is Watermelon Report

Charleston, SC (wciv) - three academic excellence students parents filed a lawsuit, late last week in school, a consulting company, and its property of printing about the story of events in the school press.

According to the filing by James and Betty Moore, Amy and Lee Garrard, and Dean and Kathryn Frailey, members of the school district released false information to the media about the investigation into the Academic Magnet football team's post-game watermelon celebration.

The documents say "they falsely published to others that the football team made animal sounds and drew a monkey face on the watermelon during these celebrations." The filing alleges the defendants, including Jones Street Publishers -- the publisher for Charleston City Paper -- released the false information to accuse the team of depicting African Americans in a derogatory manner.

During briefings from Dr. Nancy McGinley, the district's superintendent at the time, she said the investigation into the celebration resulted in a student on the team drawing a face on a piece of paper that was representative of the faces drawn on the watermelons.

The investigation into the team's behavior came after a parent of a Military Magnet football player contacted a member of the school board to complain about the team's actions after the game.

For two days, the Academic Magnet football coach, Bud Walpole, was fired from his coaching position by McGinley, but then reinstated after an outcry from the community led to a school board vote to bring him back.

There were protests by the NAACP, and a state representative even called for the dismissal of the entire coaching staff at Academic Magnet.

According to the filing, the false information from school district officials led to an Oct. 30 commentary in the Charleston City Paper entitled "Mob Rules" by Chris Haire. In the article, Haire writes "the entire Academic Magnet community rallied behind Coach Walpole, with some even going as far as to deny any racist connection between watermelons, Sambo-like caricatures, monkey noises, and black people."

The suit alleges Haire's article accused the members of the team -- the plaintiff's sons -- of being racists. As such, they are seeking punitive damages against the school district, the City Paper's publisher, Axxis Consulting and its employee Kevin Clayton, who was brought in for the investigation.

The suit does not name a specific dollar amount for the

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