Southern Ill. community calls for justice after comments made by high school track coach

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 6:07 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - The superintendent called the coach’s words to a 15-year-old student “insensitive,” but the teen’s family called them racist.

After the issue spread on social media, dozens of people decided to take their concerns directly to the high school.

The student’s older brother, Malek, described what happened.

“She came home to tell my mom and then she went to the administrators first to have them do something about it,” he said.

“It’s racial,” Malek said.

Malek said his family wants the district to take action.

“Fire her. Get her outta here,” he said.

Superintendent Keith Oates was quickly surrounded by people wanting answers directly from him.

Oates identified the coach and teacher as Sara Baker, now on paid leave.

He called Baker’s comments insensitive, but would not acknowledge exactly what she said.

“I think there’s been so many phrases thrown around, you know, I just couldn’t comment on that exactly. I think there’s some inaccuracies on social media of course,” Oates said.

Also on scene were several Marion police officers and Mayor Mike Absher.

“At best, and don’t recoil from this when I say it, you asked me a question, you asked my opinion so that’s what I’m going to give you. At best, it’s an extraordinarily insensitive comment,” Absher said.

Oates clarified the student did not get kicked off the track team.

Her brother said they took her out of school before the crowd gathered, but this won’t be just a one-day event.

“We’re going to keep continuing coming out here until she’s gone and that’s just that,” Malek said.

Superintendent Oates did not say when or if any further action would be taken against the coach.

The district’s next board meeting is set for May 18.

Meantime, members of that crowd say they’ll be back outside the school again on Tuesday calling on the district to do something.

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