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Clark resigns amidst rumors of racist text message

This is a screenshot of the text message believed to be sent by Lori Goins Clark.

Clark resigns amidst rumors of racist text message
September 11
13:07 2019

Board of Education votes on process to fill District 2 vacancy

Less than a week after she stepped down from the Board of Education, the racist text message sent by Lori Goins Clark that led to her resignation and the abrupt retirement of interim superintendent Dr. Kenneth Simington began to make rounds on social media.

Here’s what we know: in the midst of a nationwide search to find a replacement to fill the vacancy left by former Superintendent Beverly Emory, last month Interim Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Simington announced his retirement. While many had speculations on why Simington stepped down, it wasn’t until last week that more light was shed on the situation.

On Thursday, Sept. 5, WS/FCS released a statement officially announcing Clark’s resignation. Shortly after that, The Chronicle received word about the text message. According to a reliable source, the text message included a photo of Mushmouth, a character from the 1970’s cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, with wording referencing Simington.

We later learned that the message was supposed to be sent to Dana Caudill Jones, another board member, but was sent to Simington in a group message by mistake.

In the press release, the district did not confirm the content of the message. School Board Chair Malisha Woodbury only thanked Clark for her service. Woodbury said, “We thank Lori for her four and half years of committed service to the students, staffs, and parents of our district.”

The Chronicle later received a copy of the text message. Along with the photo, the message reads, “Hope you enjoy your mtg with mushmouth!!!” During the school board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10, Woodbury all but confirmed the contents of the message when she read a statement condemning Clark’s actions.

“When the entire board became aware of the message, discussion immediately began on how to handle its insensitive nature and address the board member who sent it,” Woodbury continued. “As you know, that member has accepted responsibility for the message, apologized and resigned from her position.”

While making her own personal statement, board vice chair Barbara Hanes Burke said, “I had no involvement with this text exchange and I absolutely do not support the actions of former board member Lori Goins Clark. In fact, I am appalled by her actions.”

In response to what has transpired over the past month, it is believed that Simington has filed a lawsuit against Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Simington, who is the first African American to serve as superintendent, has spent most of his 30 years in education with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS). Before being named interim superintendent in February, Simington served as deputy superintendent, assistant superintendent for instructional and student services and chief academic officer.

Representatives from Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy & Kennedy, LLP declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The Chronicle earlier this week.

In a statement after announcing his retirement, Simington said, “It has been a great pleasure and distinct honor to serve the students, schools, families, this community and fellow colleagues. In the meantime, as we move toward a new school year, we will continue to make preparations so that the 2019-20 school year will be the best yet in WS/FCS.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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