Editor’s Note: Folks, this turned out to be a relatively long article because of all the pieces of the puzzle that had to be fit together. If you are interested in the truth, read on. If not, maybe you should just move on to another web site.This is a story that goes way back to the days of segregated schools. I remember those days, but many may not remember. So, let’s just start at the beginning. And remember, nobody else is going to tell you the truth about this situation.
After the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education US Supreme Court case that outlawed segregation in public schools, Cleveland County and North Carolina drug their heels in implementing integration. NC Governor Terry Sanford at one time even had a plan to totally shut down public schools if the Feds tried to hurry up the integration process.
What we had in Cleveland County Schools in those days was two completely separate sets of schools. One set for black students and one set for white students. Some of the newest schools in the county at that time were actually black schools. (Later on the old North Shelby School was one of the previously black schools with a new name.) There were no special schools for handicapped students in those days. That type of school would have to wait for many more years and many more Court decisions. This new North Shelby School Project is not being built out of the kindness of the School Board’s heart. Although they would like you to believe so.
The fact is in the years between 1954 and 1967 the school systems in Cleveland County were kept segregated as long as possible. A complete K-12 class equivalent was caught up in this process before Cleveland County Schools were integrated. During this time new schools were being built. Whites had no intention of ever sending their white children to previously black schools. Or let their children swim along with blacks in school swimming pools. Nothing was done to help handicapped students because the integration “shock” took highest priority.
The school construction was completed in county schools in time for the 1967-68 class at Burns and Crest High Schools. Which did not have auditoriums and swimming pools that would have had an uncertainty as to how black and white students would react to such a mixed use environment. Most to all county black schools were sold cheap to get them off the books so no white children would ever have to use the previously black school facilities.
Probably the most egregious misuse of school property was the cheap sale of the black Philadelphia School property to F.L. Beam. Beam turned the school into a so called “Rest Home” where he would house mentally ill sexual criminals who were released from prison with no place to go. It was a win-win situation for the State Government as Central Prison would release these mentally ill sex offenders and pay F.L. Beam well for taking them in.
It was not such a good deal for the Beam’s “inmates” or the community around Philadelphia, Lawndale and Fallston. Beam was mean and abusive to his inmates. Beam would farm out his inmates to dig graves or whatever and pocket most of the money for himself. The mentally handicapped and criminal sex offenders were allowed to walk the roads to Fallston and Lawndale and through Philadelphia. Many complaints were made from citizens, but they were all covered up since Philadelphia, a black community, Fallston and Lawndale were rural and considered backwoods by the political powers to be in Shelby who took over Cleveland County in 1966 when they abolished district elections. Nobody wanted such a facility in their back yards so Philadelphia, Fallston and Lawndale, having little to no political influence, were stuck with the problem.