Lawsuit: Students allege Effingham County schools prohibited ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirts

Credit: Thomas P. Costello

Credit: Thomas P. Costello

Three Black high school students and their parents have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Effingham County School District, citing racial hostility that prevents the pupils from wearing “Black Lives Matter” text on their clothing, the recently filed lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, the students and parents allege administrators at Effingham College & Career Academy and Effingham County High School overlooked various complaints regarding racial bullying.

Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) first reported the news.

In the civil complaint document obtained by GPB, the accusers alleged “two students scrawling racial epithet across lockers in the baseball locker room; a noose being hung in the football locker room; students wearing Confederate flag attire; a white student wearing a full Hitler costume during spirit week after obtaining prior approval from a teacher; white students' open use of racial slurs including ‘n-----’; overtly racist remarks by a white teacher and open and notorious display of Confederate flags in the building.”

Superintendent Yancy Ford told GPB through email that “neither the School District nor other named defendants have been served with the lawsuit at this time. Once we have been served, a response to the allegations will be filed in accordance with the rules and procedures of the court.”

The complaint goes on to say, “In one instance, a Black student was refused entry to a football game because she was wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirt; and was advised that she could not enter with it on. However, a white student was allowed entry at the very same event with a shirt that read, ‘Stomp on My Flag; I’ll Stomp Your A**’. There were no repercussions for that white student.”

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart/Savannah Morning News

In 2021, an Effingham County High School teacher resigned after he said he was told by a principal that Black Lives Matter discussions have no place at school. The teacher, Clint Tawes, taught American literature and the conversation started when two students were speaking about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“Why aren’t they being arrested?” one student asked. “If they were Black they would’ve been,” said another.

The next day, Jan. 7, Tawes said he was called into Principal Amie Dickerson’s office after a white student’s parents complained to her about the exchange. Tawes said his principal told him politics and controversial topics should not be discussed in class. The conversation later shifted to Black Lives Matter.

After Tawes' resignation, Ford said the district has "an open-door policy and that any faculty member can come to him or their principals with concerns."

“I think with an issue that's similar to what Mr. Tawes has brought forward, we are more than willing to always sit down with an employee, or stakeholders for that matter, and discuss any issue or concern or positives that those constituents or stakeholders want to bring to the table,” Ford told the Savannah Morning News.

This is a developing story.

Latrice Williams is a general assignment reporter covering Bryan and Effingham County. She can be reached at

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Lawsuit: Students allege Effingham County schools prohibited 'Black Lives Matter' shirts


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