VCSC board's lawyers looking at new allegation

·3 min read

Jan. 12—The Vigo County School Board, through its lawyers, is investigating allegations that a newly elected board member inappropriately visited and tried to influence the mother of one of the racial harassment victims at West Vigo High School.

The visit occurred Nov. 30 at Crystal Lowe's workplace while an investigation of the racial harassment was underway.

"I can confirm we are having legal counsel look into it," Amy Lore, board president, said Wednesday.

The allegations involve James JD Skelton "potentially visiting someone at a workplace. That's what has to be looked into and investigated," Lore said.

Skelton was elected to the District 2 board seat in the November election.

A speaker at Monday's school board meeting made an allegation referencing a newly elected board member "using his political power to intimidate" a victim's family. The person was referencing Skelton, according to a copy of the statement provided to media.

Crystal Lowe, the mother of one of the racial harassment victims, said Skelton did visit her at her workplace — in the Varsity Club room at Hulman Center, which requires membership to enter — Nov. 30. Skelton was not a member.

"How professional is that? He's a newly elected board member. He has kids involved, and I'm a mother of one of the victims," she said. "How do you feel you can come to my job and speak to me about the situation?"

Lowe said of Skelton's visit, "I think he was trying to get out of me the part that his kids had in it, and I wasn't going to say any of that."

Lowe said she did not feel intimidated, but she "just thought it was very unprofessional and inappropriate for him, a newly elected board member with kids involved, to come to my job to talk to me about the situation. The investigation was still going on then."

She said Skelton also asked her to speak to another individual about taking an offensive, manipulated picture off Facebook. He told her it was out of concern it might affect his son's athletic career in college, she said.

She informed a VCSC school official about what had happened.

Lowe said she doesn't believe Skelton should be serving on the school board. "He's too close to everything going on," she said.

On Thursday, Skelton provided a written response to questions from the Tribune-Star.

As far as his meeting with Lowe at her workplace, he stated:

"The conversation I had with Miss Lowe, first of all was with her permission during intermission at an Indiana State University basketball game that I was in attendance at.

"Secondly, the conversation was that of two parents. It had absolutely nothing to do with my position on the school board. I had not been sworn in, and was not an official member at that time. Aside from that, the conversation was cordial, and I thought we both walked away with a better understanding of one another's perspective."

Skelton was asked whether he would abstain from voting and discussion if matters related to West Vigo racial harassment come before the board.

He responded, "I will consider every issue presented to the school board with the best interests of our students and community in mind. I will also abstain from reviewing matters related to the recent complaints regarding racial harassment at West Vigo High School."

Asked if he believes the situation has hurt his credibility with people of color in the community, Skelton stated, "I am deeply committed to serving every member of our community as a Vigo County School Board trustee and look forward to making sure our school corporation fosters a learning environment that supports our students' success and well-being."

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue