Douglas and Antoinette Carraway experienced racism at Walter Woodward Elementary School.
There’s no easy way to say that.
But while certain parents made them feel uncomfortable on campus solely because of the color of their skin, one person went out of their way to make sure that didn’t happen and went above and beyond her job description as an office clerk to stifle it whenever it cropped up.
Much decried, demonized and denounced staffer Debie McLarty.
“When this happened I thought, Debie? No – this is not right,” Antoinette Carraway said to the Manteca Unified School Board Thursday night in a show of support to the woman that has become like family over the years. “She is not a racist. People there at that school are not right, but she is not one of them. Debie brings in all of her own band-aids to wrap up kids when they get a cut and I went down there to bring her some from my house and if she’s a racist, then she’s there wrapping black kids band-aids up too.
“You don’t have to believe me, but it’s true. There are some people at that school that wouldn’t even speak to you. But not Debie. She hugs my kids.”
Their experience is a stark contrast to the picture that was painted by – well, the pictures – that were disseminated to the news media, the public and the rest of the school board that showed children around confederate flags and less-than-flattering portrayals of President Barack Obama on McLarty’s Facebook feed. According to dialogue from Thursday’s board meeting, the photos were discovered after McLarty posted to trustee Ashley Drain’s “very public” Facebook page.
No explanation as to why trustee Sam Fant contacted media outlets regarding the matter – including the Bulletin – prior to the board meeting in which the pictures were distributed was offered. And while Fant chose to verbally spar with the attorney who prepared the independent report commissioned by the district regarding the matter – put into motion after McLarty filed a complaint – Drain elected to point comments directly at McLarty while the rest of the board mulled over disciplinary action for Fant.
“They’re racist. They are. They are,” said Drain – who noted that her past experience at Fisk University in Nashville had given her a unique perspective on racism in America, and items like photos didn’t stack up in her book to the hooded Klansmen that she saw that actually threw things at people.
Drain’s “very public” Facebook page has since been taken offline.
McLarty, who had no idea that the photos were going to be made public – let alone splashed on television cameras – and announced after the fact that the pictures with the confederate flags were actually of her grabndosn’s “Dukes of Hazzard”-themed birthday party and the photo of Obama that was misrepresented as having him with a bullet in his forehead was actually one of a fly that had landed at an inopportune moment at the White House that was widely published and posted on the Internet..
The backlash from she contends was a gross mischaracterization prompted online petitions calling for her firing – at least one of which is still active – and forced her to at least temporarily suspend her Facebook page.
The Stockton activist that brought the photos to the attention of the district – Ralph Lee White – was interviewed by the same news crew that interviewed Fant while the meeting was still ongoing. He was not part of the executive summary of investigation into the matter regarding the happenings at the meeting, and has not been back to a Manteca Unified School District board meeting since.