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CLAYTON    •   A coalition of local, state and national civil rights organizations plan a Friday news conference to announce the filing of a wrongful termination suit on behalf of a black St. Louis County official fired from the directorship of a minority outreach program.

The dismissal of Annette Slack, the coalition said in a press statement, has raised questions about the “failure of the County government to address racial disparity in employment and among minority contractors and vendors.”

Slack, who headed the Office of Community Empowerment and Diversity, was let go in February. 

County officials said Slack was terminated for cause after a computer audit revealed she had conducted personal business on county time.

The officials released documents that showed Slack, an attorney, used the computer to draft legal papers, grade student papers for a class she taught at Missouri Baptist University and set up a fundraising event for her church.

The effort to discredit Slack is tantamount to "character assassination" according to the press release from the St. Louis County Chapter of the NAACP, Mound City Bar Association, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other supporters.    

Established by County Executive Steve Stenger in 2015, the diversity office serves as a clearinghouse to address housing, social services, health and other needs of minority residents.

Slack was the first director.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference representative Darryl Gray said Thursday the decision to seek redress in St. Louis County Circuit Court was made after the county rejected "several overtures to sit down and talk."

Stenger said last week that he has maintained a dialogue with Esther Haywood, the president of the chapter, about matters concerning the civil rights group.

The county executive was responding to a NAACP request for an independent committee to investigate the circumstances that resulted in widespread irregularities in April 5 municipal election balloting.