Following a meeting on Tuesday between the superintendents of Northeast Iowa conference schools, the Charles City School District announced in a statement that it is evaluating whether the district will remain in the conference.
The announcement comes after an investigation into allegations that fans at Waverly-Shell Rock High School shouted racist remarks at Charles City baseball player Jeremiah Chapman during a recent game.
Waverly-Shell Rock investigated the claims, and posted a statement on the district’s Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon.
“The District has completed an extensive investigation into reports that, at a baseball game on June 27, 2020 against the Charles City Community School District, racially motivated comments were directed toward a player for Charles City,” the statement read, in part. “Because all individuals involved are students, federal and state law prohibit the District from releasing specific findings and actions relating to this matter, but our District is taking appropriate measures in response to this incident.”
Waverly-Shell Rock’s statement also made clear that heckling and taunting will not be tolerated at sporting events, especially taunting that involves “race, color, or another personal characteristic.”
In response to the post, Charles City sent out a statement, saying that the information released lacked “the clarity we need and desire.”
“We are eager to see a clear action plan on the part of the involved school district to accept responsibility and ensure students can be kept safe from bigoted and inappropriate behaviors,” the statement said.
In a summary of the efforts Charles City is taking in response to the incident, the district said that it is evaluating whether it will remain in the Northeast Iowa Conference.
A school district task force of coaches, students, parents, alumni and district leadership will evaluate the school’s membership with the NEIC, and if the task force decides that the district is in an “unhealthy partnership,” Charles City will pursue a new conference.
The district outlined its expectations that the involved school district develop “clear, measurable action steps to resolve racism and sportsmanship issues.”
Charles City also requested a one-year, penalty free moratorium for Charles City refusing to play Waverly-Shell Rock in the 2020-2021 school year. Furthermore, the district requested that any postseason play between the two schools occur at a neutral site.
According to Charles City’s statement, the district’s leadership met with the executive director of the IHSAA and the IGHSAU to discuss how the incident will lead to changes. Some proposed ideas include active bystander training, increased education for all fans, postseason accountability for poor sportsmanship, and obligations to address fan behavior.
Earlier this week, the New Hampton School Board discussed options for conference changes, including removing Waverly-Shell Rock from the conference. Since there is no way under the conference constitution to remove a school from the conference, the board instructed Superintendent Jay Jurrens to pursue new conference options.
The conference has named a “sportsmanship champion” since 2008, and Waverly-Shell Rock has finished last in the sportsmanship standings every year.
In an email to the Globe Gazette, Waverly-Shell Rock Superintendent Ed Klamfoth admitted that he was concerned with the school’s annual position at the bottom of the rankings.
“We need to do better and intend to engage in work that can make that happen,” Klamfoth said. “That will start with school board discussions, learning, and goal setting, and move down to the student body who we intend to have engage in work with students from other NEIC schools to set expectations.”
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