Valley Center High School and Topeka High School are looking into an incident in which Black basketball players from the latter were subjected to racial threats during a game on Saturday.
In a Change.org petition, Coach Geo Lyons said his Topeka High School students experienced “racial slurs, threats and disgusting taunts.” He also claimed that his team were teased by Valley Center students who used a Black baby doll to harass them during the game.
The behavior was captured on video and posted to Facebook. Lyons elaborated on the harrowing behavior in an interview with KSN News on Monday. “Nobody, myself included, did anything to protect my kids, or my child for that matter,” Lyons stated. “It was my son who was at the free throw line when the chant, ‘He’s a pu**y’ started. The N-word was used and thrown around, you know, our kids were told they were going to be hanged … I had a down locker room, I’m talking about tears were flowing in that locker room.”
The Valley Center school district issued a statement addressing how they handled the behavior while the game was happening. “Administration immediately began removing students involved and shifted to a proactive mode to prevent any further negative interactions as the game ended,” they said.“An off-duty police officer also assisted in getting everyone to leave the game immediately after it was over.”
In addition, they said the baby doll was an infant simulator for a Human Growth and Development class. “Based on a review of videos, the baby was passed around between students during the game,” the statement detailed.
“While the ‘baby’ was not brought intentionally as a prop to taunt or threaten Topeka High School, without context, seeing the ‘baby’ and images of the ‘baby’ caused hurt and concern to many, and for that, we are very sorry.”
District officials said they will continue to investigate the incident.
They also plan to follow up with parents about consequences for the students involved and have more supervision at future games. The district also issued a formal apology to Topeka USD 501 and the Topeka High School community.
“We will do better. Thank you for sharing your feelings about your treatment at our high school. Please know we have heard you and we share in your concerns,” the letter read. “We will use this experience to learn, grow, and improve.”