ELK GROVE (CBS13) – The Elk Grove Unified School District is coming under fire once again less than one week after the district hosted a community meeting to deal with on-going issues of racism and hate among students.
Now five deputies with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department are accusing the district of racism and discrimination.
“It’s all the way to the high levels now, it’s not just the kids that have to worry about it. And to be minimized because of my race, it just takes everything away, everything,” said deputy LaToya Buford.
WEB EXTRA: Deputy Dexter Poe Extended Interview:
The deputies have served the Elk Grove Unified School District for more than a decade, providing security and protection at a number of events and games. But about six months ago, they realized they were banned from working certain jobs.
“It just so happens the five African American deputies who work primarily at Sheldon High School were eliminated, that’s not a coincidence to me. Their names were off the list of email communications. And then after the issue was brought up, they’re back on the list of communications,” said Dexter Poe, a recently retired school resource officer who had served the district for 12 years. “It felt really humiliating to say we’ve served, we gave, and the only people you were gonna eliminate were five African-American deputies.”
WEB EXTRA: Deputy Deborah Johnson Extended Interview:
Poe says a coworker brought to his attention some concerning comments allegedly made by the district’s director of safety and security during a meeting about the selection of security officers for the 2017 school football games.
“The co-worker said there was a statement made in that meeting by the director … something to the effect of, ‘I don’t want ‘Dexter’s crew’ working at Sheldon, or working period.’ That deputy was disturbed by the comment,” said Poe.
Poe adds that coworker also informed him that the director allegedly referred to the African American deputies working at Sheldon High School as the “Soul Patrol.”
“It’s humiliating. I’m a deputy sheriff, I’m a grown man, but to be referred to in that manner by someone in a position of responsibility, that’s very disappointing,” said Poe.
WEB EXTRA: Deputy Anthony Jenkins Extended Interview:
“I have a good reputation within the department; I’ve done a lot of things for the department, and the community, and to have this happen is a great setback,” said deputy Anthony Jenkins.
“It was an embarrassment. I’m a retired Lt. Colonel from the army, and just recently a retired lieutenant from the department. To be a leader and to have one of my subordinates come and talk to me about being restricted and not knowing why, that was hurtful. I felt it was a blemish on my reputation,” said Deputy Deborah Johnson.
“The question is: If we were eliminated, then why?” said Poe.
The school district could not answer that question.
“So you can’t tell me if the district has restricted work for five black deputies? you can’t confirm that?” we asked. “Unfortunately that’s information we can’t confirm,” she Xanthi Pinkerton, spokesperson with the district.
WEB EXTRA: District Responds To Allegations:
“The complaints were investigated, and investigated thoroughly,” Pinkerton adds.
Pinkerton did say the use of the term “soul patrol” would be considered racially insensitive and unacceptable, but she didn’t confirm or deny if it was used. Meanwhile, the school district’s findings were sent to the deputies.
“It doesn’t have a ring of truth, it doesn’t make sense,” said Poe.
According to the deputies, the district concluded that there was not enough evidence to claim discrimination and their allegations against the director of security were unfounded.
WEB EXTRA: Deputy Latoya Buford Extended Interview:
“I felt that it was just something quick they put out just to cover their bases, just to say we did something but they didn’t do anything,” said Buford. “It’s not fair he needs to be held accountable for his actions.”
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Departmentt said the allegations were stunning.
“We do take this very seriously. We do want our employees to feel as if they’re appreciated and safe here at their workplace and to make sure that no one is discriminated against,” said spokesperson Shaun Hampton. “As soon as the allegations came about, our chief deputy and undersheriff drove down to the district office in regards to the complaint, we took this very seriously and wanted it investigated immediately.”