When Broward School Board member Ann Murray worked as a school bus terminal supervisor for the district before her election, she oversaw a racially diverse crew of drivers.
But that didn't stop her from letting racial slurs fly out of her mouth, according to complaints and testimony from several school district transportation employees, both black and white. Murray admitted to using the n word and was issued a written reprimand for "a serious breach of conduct that will not be tolerated" that violated the board's antidiscriminatory rules.
A School Board investigation conducted in 2007, a year before her election to the board, shows that Murray's alleged use of racial epithets came to a head while she was overseeing the running of contracted school buses at the Super Bowl that year. She didn't respond to my request for comment on the matter.
While working at the board's base of operations at Calder Race Track for that game held between the Giants and Patriots, Murray -- a white woman who speaks in a heavy accent from her native Boston -- was speaking with fellow supervisor Lisa Spince, who is white, about going to a previous Dolphins football game at what is now called Sun Life Stadium. Nearby were three black school bus drivers.
Spince reported in a written statement to the board that Murray said: "Do you remember when a group of us from transportation came down to watch a Bills game? Yeah, they had us up in nigger heaven."
Spince, who now works for a school district in Georgia, told me that she was "shocked and offended" at what she'd heard and that the black bus drivers appeared visibly upset. She asked Murray, "What did you
Murray then said, "You know, way up at the top of the stadium."
Spince told Murray that her remark was offensive and uncalled for and walked away. She then walked over to a black female bus driver who was deeply offended by Murray's comment.
"I put my arm around her to comfort her," Spince wrote in her statement to the board. "The [driver] told me that she was very mad because that was not the first time that Ms. Murray had used the 'N' word. She told me that she was going to report Ms. Murray."
Spince reported what had happened to two supervisors, and the upset driver, Markeia
Funchess, did indeed file a complaint with the board's Equal Educational Opportunities Department.
Funchess remembered it a little differently, saying that Murray had referred to a football game where she had to sit in the "nigger bleed section." She said that after Spince confronted Murray, telling her that word wasn't in her vocabulary, Murray then "smirked" before explaining that she didn't know if it was raining in the seating section or they were pouring beer. Funchess reported that Murray then apologized and said, "I forgot the company that I was in."
That's basically the way bus driver Penny Smith heard it as well.
"When she said that, Mrs. Spince told her that was not acceptable," Smith wrote in her statement on the incident. "[Murray] gave Mrs. Spince the smurk [sic] look. Mrs. Spince and one of the drivers walked so [Murray] said, "Oh!!! I forgot the company I was in.'"
Murray admitted using the racial slur and signed off on her written reprimand.
"During the investigation, sufficient evidence existed, including your own admittance to corroborate that you did indeed use a derogatory term, 'nigger,' in the presence of subordinates," wrote then-school district Transportation Director Lucille Green. "You have failed to meet the performance standards required of your position as Terminal Supervisor... Please be advised that any further failure on your part to perform to the standards... of your job duties will result in further disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment."
Murray worked in transportation for only another year, much of it spent running for the School Board. The incident never surfaced during her race with Rick Saltrick.