Superintendent placed on leave after federal lawsuit claims racism

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The superintendent of Buford City Schools has been placed on administrative leave after a former employee filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the school system retaliated against her because of her race and her decision to exercise her First Amendment rights. 

The more than 30-page document also includes audio of a racist rant, allegedly made by Superintendent Geye Hamby.

"He works for the temp service, and he doesn't have to do what the (expletive) we tell him to do," Hamby allegedly said in the recording. "(Expletive) that (expletive). I'll kill these (expletive). (Expletive), I'll shoot that (expletive) if they'd let me."

The lawsuit seeks damages after it alleges Hamby and Buford Academy Principal Kaleen Pulley discriminated against former paraprofessional Mary Ingram because she spoke up for the black community at public meetings. 

According to the lawsuit, Ingram questioned why plans for a new building did not include gold, which was chosen as one of the school's colors back in the 1970s to represent the former black high school.

Instead, the suit alleges, the color scheme only included white and green, the colors from the white high school.  The school system fired Ingram in 2017 after she was written up for alleged problems.  

After the release of the lawsuit and the audio recordings, the district has put Hamby on administrative leave effective Tuesday.

"The Board anticipates further action on this matter at a specially called meeting in the next several days," A statement from the district said. "The District will continue to focus on the mission of empowering our students to reach their full potential."

Attorney Ed Buckley represents Ingram. While the recordings allegedly captured the superintendent talking about workers other than Ingram, Buckley said the audio recordings reveal the superintendent's racial bias.

"Bias towards her, bias towards the community at large that she sought to represent at these public meetings," Buckley explained.

Buckley says someone sent that audio to Ingram anonymously and he would like to track down its source.

"If they know who recorded it, or if the individual who recorded it would come forward, we would be happy to talk to them," he said.

FOX 5 contacted the attorneys representing Hamby and the school system. They have not responded, but in an answer filed earlier this month, attorneys for the school district flatly denied Ingram's claims. 

Nevertheless, Buckley said he is confident the lawsuit will be successful for both Ingram and the community at large.

"The bigger picture is that the Buford community as a whole needs to take a hard look at its school superintendent, and decide whether they want the school system that exists in the 21st Ccntury," he said.

The lawsuit is still in its early stages, Buckley said it will be likely 10 months to a year before it goes to a jury.