Former Troup County coach Charles Flowers disputes firing

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 24, 2012 

Charles Flowers, who was fired in February from his most recent head coaching job at Troup County High School after being accused of illegally recruiting student-athletes, filed a lawsuit against the Troup County School District on Friday, alleging racial discrimination.

According to the complaint, which was filed in court in Newnan, Ga., the school board terminated Flowers' contract based on statements by a co-owner of an apartment complex that Flowers had paid a deposit and two months rent to allow two student-athletes from Alabama to attend Troup.

The complaint alleges that, despite being given evidence to the contrary, the board did not give Flowers, a former Shaw High football coach and Muscogee County School District athletic director, an opportunity to defend himself.

"I was accused of illegally recruiting students to come to Troup to play football. I did not recruit anybody ­-- at all," Flowers said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

"I was never given a chance to defend myself against those allegations. No one ever talked to me, and no one ever talked to the mother (of the student-athletes)."

Flowers is seeking lost wages and punitive damages, but also stressed that he wants his name cleared.

"I want my name cleared and the truth to be known to show that there is discrimination going on," he said.

In the lawsuit, Flowers alleges the defendants discriminated against him on account of his race by subjecting him to different terms and conditions of employment, terminating his employment, replacing him with a white employee and making false statements about him.

Flowers' attorney, Ruth Woodling, said the school district approached Flowers to sign a release allowing him to submit a letter of resignation in place of the board terminating his contract. In return, Flowers would waive all right to a due process hearing or other future litigation.

The release, obtained by the Ledger-Enquirer earlier this year, was not signed, Woodling said.

"He never signed that, and he never will," she said on Wednesday.

The Troup County School District released an official statement on Wednesday regarding the complaint.

"We are aware that there was a complaint filed in federal court on Friday, October 19, 2012," the statement said. "School officials will review the complaint once it has been served and file appropriate responses in court to all allegations. It is the practice of the Troup County School System not to comment on pending litigation."

Flowers, an alumnus of Troup, amassed a 161-82 record during 21 seasons as a head football coach. He was 124-45 in 14 seasons at Shaw, winning a state championship in 2000. In 2009, he became the first African-American coach at Troup since desegregation.

He is currently the coach of the ninth-grade football team at Smiths Station Junior High.

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