An athletic director responsible for all physical education programs in a largely minority school district has been placed on leave after it emerged that he had sent a series of racist and misogynistic emails to other school and district administrators from his personal email account, some during business hours.
As first reported by the East Bay Express, and followed upon by the Contra Costa Times, NBC Bay Area and other outlets, West Contra Costa School District Athletic Director Matt Stewart has been placed on leave following an expose in the Express that highlighted more than 25 of his most inflammatory emails.
Among the emails were jokes which highlight post-9/11 anti-Arab sensitivities and outright racist sentiments and some messages from Stewart which compared President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to apes and chimpanzees.
The AD also reportedly forwarded along more than 250 pornographic images and a wide variety of other distasteful material.
The fact that 85 percent of West Contra Costa School District students identify themselves as racial minorities makes Stewart's bigoted communication all the more troubling.
One former athletic director and football coach at a West Contra Costa school recalled being particularly hurt when he was shown a "Tarzan" email which attacked African-Americans.
"The thought that came through my head was: 'I'm in a school district that's predominantly minority and the district hired this guy to oversee the coaches?'" former Richmond (Calif.) Kennedy High football coach Clyde Byrd, an African-American who said he felt Stewart had bullied him when they worked together because of his race, told the Express. "I've experienced racism before, but not where it's institutionalized like this."
While any future in the district seems to be beyond Stewart's grip at this point, some are questioning whether his departure will be enough, with many who received his lewd and lascivious emails but failed to speak up against them allowed to continue in their positions without recourse.
"[Stewart] stepping down is really not enough," President of Black Women Organized for Political Action Kathleen Sullivan, whose sons play basketball in the West Contra Costa District, told the Express. "What is the public position the school district is taking on the matter? What are the consequences for the recipients of these emails who didn't come forward?"
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