HS athletic director suspended over comment

November 12, 2010 4:37:04 PM PST
What some call a racially charged comment has triggered the suspension of a local high school athletic director.Rick Cameron says his 15-year-old son, who is a student at Cedar Ridge High School in Orange County, claims he was trying to do chin-ups after suffering from a dislocated shoulder.

Cameron says his son's complaints didn't go over well with the school's athletic director and basketball coach.

He says Jim Pappas told his son, "It's better for you to be hanging from that bar up there, than to be hanging from up there with a noose around your neck."

Pappas is now suspended with pay while school leaders try to figure out whether the gym class disagreement turned racial.

Orange County Schools won't comment on their investigation, but Cameron says he spoke to Pappas directly.

"I asked him, 'did you say exactly this' and he said, 'yes I did and I apologize, I made a mistake,'" Cameron said. "And I said, 'you made more than a mistake.'"

Cameron tells ABC11 Eyewitness News that his son didn't respond to the remark, but several students and a staff member witnessed it. But there are published reports Pappas never used the word "noose."

For Cameron, he says, it doesn't matter. He says he believes it is more than a misunderstanding.

"It just took me way back 60 to 70 years ago," Cameron said. "Then you think of all the people who've been through this and then you come all the way up to 2010 and some guy of this caliber says this to your kid. I mean it's just unacceptable. It's just unacceptable."

Cameron says the teacher's punishment wasn't harsh enough and that he should be fired.

ABC11's phone calls to Pappas were not returned Friday.

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