- School District of Beloit
Action Plan Announced to Ensure Student-Athlete Safety
If student athletes from the School District of Beloit encounter racist or unsportsman-like conduct at future sporting events, the athletes may leave the event if the conduct persists.
That is one of the options School District of Beloit Superintendent Willie Garrison II shared in a letter to parents in the district recently.
The actions outlined by Garrison were in response to conduct observed by student athletes and parents during the WIAA Division 1 Regional Semifinals basketball game held in Muskego, Wisconsin on March 3.
Beloit student athletes and parents of students alleged swastikas and racial slurs were written in the dust on top of lockers in the visiting team’s locker room. Also, Muskego fans were dressed as gang members or “thugs,” wearing black tank top shirts, pajama pants and ski masks. The Muskego fans also flashed their cell phone flashlights at players, played recorder flutes and shouted taunts during the game, all of which are against WIAA rules.
Garrison said he has had several conversations with Muskego-Norway School District officials and he has scheduled an in-person meeting with Muskego officials this week.
Muskego-Norway Superintendent Kelly Thompson has said an investigation of the incidents that took place on March 3 is underway in cooperation with the Muskego Police Department. In an email sent to the Beloit Daily News, she apologized for the behavior demonstrated during the game.
Garrison said Muskego-Norway District officials have cooperated with the Beloit District in the investigation and he wanted to assure residents that student safety is a top priority for the district.
“We take this matter very seriously. All students should be able to play in a safe, competitive sports environment,” Garrison said in his letter to families in the district. “These actions do not represent the School District of Beloit’s beliefs or mission statement. We want our student-athletes and families to know we want safe learning environments in our schools and at athletic activities/events.”
In the letter, Garrison said any time players or coaches experience racial slurs, biased statements or offensive statements at a sporting event, immediate action will be taken to keep students safe.
He said Beloit coaches will call a timeout to speak with coaches, officials and referees about any unsportsman-like behavior or questionable behavior, and they will request that WIAA rules be followed. Sanctions against offending fans may be requested, including removing them from the game area.
Players, fans and others at any sporting event should be reminded of what behavior is expected during the event.
If offending behavior persist, Garrison said Beloit student athletes and coaches have two options: Return to the locker room and load buses to leave the sporting event; Or, return to the locker room and have discussions with athletic directors and officials to determine if the sporting event should continue.
“I believe you cannot drive out hate with hate, but as a Purple Knight community, we will not allow our students to be subject to this behavior,” Garrison said in the letter to families. “We can’t determine what another community will do or how it will choose to handle a much greater conversation rooted in dismantling systematic and institutionalized racism. The Board of Education and the School District of Beloit are committed to the safety and well being of all students at all times."