Racial Harassment Has No Place in High School Athletics

2019-09-16

To:
Chris Carter, San Clemente High School Principal
Kirsten M. Vital, Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent

On the evening of September 13, 2019, the Lincoln High School football team played San Clemente High School at the invitation of San Clemente.  This game was sanctioned by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), and was subject to its rules and regulations, which mandate respect for all participants.

During the game, multiple spectators heckled the Lincoln players and cheer squad, repeatedly using racial slurs include the “n-word.”  Furthermore, cheer squad members were racially harassed in restrooms, again including the “n-word.” This harassment came not only from high-school-age youth, but also from adult fans.

Four different Lincoln parents appealed to adults in San Clemente gear, attempting to get contact information for San Clemente administrators.  While they were assured that administrative staff would be contacted, they received no response. There was no attempt to correct the situation over the public address system.  The cheer squad, closer to the spectators and therefore in more direct contact with the racists in attendance, were advised to leave the game, and did so.

We are shocked and disgusted that such blatant racism would occur in 2019 at an athletic contest for high school students.  Athletics are part of the educational system, and all of the anti-discrimination law and policy that applies in the classroom applies on the field and on the premises of an athletic contest.  Furthermore, CIF prohibits discrimination and commands respect for all players and personnel.

While we are shocked and disgusted at the harassment itself, we are outraged and the lack of response shown from the San Clemente administration.  You may be sure that we, along with our colleagues in the NAACP Orange County Branch, will be pursuing all avenues to see that this sort of harassment does not occur again.

We call on San Clemente High School and the Capistrano Unified School District to take the following actions:

  1. Institute a program of implicit bias training for all their athletics staff, including coaches and administrators.
  2. Provide an administrative contact to each opposing team who will be responsible for addressing such activity the moment it occurs at any future athletic contest.
  3. An announcement over the public address system at all remaining 2019-2020 athletic contests reaffirming that respect is to be shown to all visiting athletes.

We stand ready to assist with bias training and other resources to improve the attitude and response of the staff of such athletic events.

We are considering further action, including seeking forfeiture of the game and suspension of SCHS from the CIF, as well as filing formal complaints with CUSD, the Equity Office of the California Department of Education, and the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Education.  We also refer you to the August 28th Collins v. Torlakson (Case No. F075781) decision reaffirming our right to pursue remedy in court over incidents such as these.

We invite you to have a serious discussion with us.

Respectfully,

Clovis Honoré, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Cc:
Stephanie Brown, Lincoln High School Principal
Cindy Marten, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent
Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, San Diego Unified School District Trustee
NAACP Orange County Branch
California Interscholastic Federation

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