Onalaska superintendent resigns after 'black QB' remark about Texans' Deshaun Watson

HOUSTON – The superintendent for Onalaska Independent School District has resigned in the wake of a 'black QB' comment he made about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The Onalaska ISD board Saturday morning accepted Lynn Redden's letter of resignation.

Redden's resignation is effective 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

In his resignation letter addressed to Board president Ted Wiggins, Redden apologized to the board, staff, students and patrons of the school, as well as Watson.

Here is the text of Redden's resignation letter:

"I want to express my deepest apologies to the Board of Trustees, Staff, Students and Patrons of the Onalaska Independent School District for the comments I made on Facebook. The comments were wrong and inappropriate and have been an embarrassment to the District, my family, friends and to me. For this I am deeply sorry.

"As an educator, this experience has taught me that I still have a lot to learn. My comments were not only uninformed but also hurtful and I understand now why they were offensive to so many people. I'd like to apologize directly to DeShaun Watson. I recognize that given the opportunity to respond by criticizing or belittling me, he chose peace and positivity instead. In spite of the terrible position I put him in, he showed himself to be the kind of role model I'd be proud for any of my students to follow. 

"Also, I want everyone to know that my comments in no way reflect the nature of the Onalaska Independent School District or the Onalaska community. These are caring, thoughtful communities where there is no place for racism. 

"Moving forward, I believe it is in the District's best interest that I resign from my position. Accordingly, I hereby submit my resignation as an employee and as Superintendent of the Onalaska Independent School District, to be effective 11:59 p.m. September 22, 2018. 

"My resignation as the Superintendent and as an employee of the Onalaska Independent School District is tendered, subject to, and in accordance with, the terms, conditions and provisions of that certain Voluntary Separation Agreement between the Onalaska Independent School District and me effective the 22nd day of September, 2018. 

"I would like to thank the OISD School Board of Trustees and staff for the past 12 years of working with you in Onalaska and in the field of education. I do hope that those who know me well and those who have worked with me will remember me for my body of work over 42 years in public education, rather than by my unwarranted and inappropriate comments."




“He opened his heart, and we could see that he devalued a certain segment of the population and if he devalued that segment then what could he do with others?” said Rosemary Covalt, a concerned resident. “(Redden) is not fair and equitable, and his opinion matters because he is the head of the school district.”

Others believed the resignation was unnecessary.

“I don’t believe it was a racist comment. I just believe it was a sensitive comment misplaced. What he said supposedly was supposed to have been in private with friends,” said Tony Kelley who also attended the meeting.

'You can't count on a black quarterback'

Redden's post on the Houston Chronicle's Facebook page, which has since been deleted, contained a racially charged remark.

The comment was posted on the Houston Chronicle's Facebook page under an article about the Texans’ recent loss. The comment was deleted but not before someone took a screen-grab.

"That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I have seen in the NFL. When you need precision decision making you can't count on a black quarterback," the post said.

VIDEO: Social media reaction to the superintendent's comment

According to the Chronicle, Redden regretted the post and said he thought he was responding to a private message.

In the Chronicle’s article, they stated Redden said, "I wish it had never been posted."

The Onalaska school board released a statement Tuesday that read:

"The OISD does not condone negative comments or actions against any race. The district values every individual and therefore the district will take the appropriate measures to address the situation expeditiously and completely."

Texans react to 'black QB' comment

Watson, J.J. Watt and head coach Bill O'Brien Wednesday spoke about the comment.

"That's on him. May peace be with him. I worry about me, so I'm not worried about what he had to say," Watson said.

When asked if he has ever experienced racism as a black quarterback, he responded, "Of course. I mean, that's everyday life, I guess. But I'm all about love so I don't focus on any of that. I love all people and that's what I focus on."

"I can't control what other people's beliefs are. I can control what I can control, so I just focus on me and that's it," Watson said.

When asked if Redden should be fired, Watson said that's not his decision.

O'Brien also addressed the issue at the news conference.

"I heard about it. I really don't want to waste a lot of time responding to outdated, inaccurate, ignorant, idiotic statements. I'll just let Deshaun's proven success on the field, his character off the field speak for itself," O'Brien said." "He's one of the greatest guys I've ever coached. He represents everything that's right about football, about life."

"His teammates respect him, his coaching staff respects him and, in this day and age, it's just amazing that that B.S. exists, but it does. But we're moving forward," he said.

"Our fans, they love Deshaun and we're really concentrating on the Giants," he added.

O'Brien then looked at his watch and said he wasted about 90 seconds responding to the "B.S."

Reporters asked the same question of teammate J.J. Watt, who said he and all the Texans have complete trust in Watson.

"I saw the headline. I don't think it deserves any attention from any of us. I think it's a very ignorant comment that doesn't deserve any more play than it should get. It's very unfortunate," Watt said. "Anybody that speaks like that should get any run. It's ridiculous."