The organization that governs public school athletic competition in Texas is keeping an eye on incidents at two high school volleyball games last Friday in which fans in attendance are alleged to have made racially insensitive remarks directed at players.
According to video clips posted on Twitter over the weekend by Lakeesha Kemp-Adams, who identified herself as the mother of a volleyball player at Paetow High School, fans of Katy ISD rival Jordan High School made monkey noises while Paetow players were serving. The Paetow team includes several players who are Black or Hispanic.
Also Friday, according to a statement posted on Twitter by the Buda Hays High School volleyball team, its players were subjected to “hateful and racial slurs” from the student section at New Braunfels Canyon High School during their game.
Julia Zachary, a spokesperson for the Austin-based University Interscholastic League, said in an email the organization is awaiting more information from Katy ISD and Comal ISD, which hosted the games in question and are conducting investigations.
“The alleged incidents are of great concern to UIL staff,” Zachary wrote. “Until we receive more information from the school districts, we are not prepared to comment further.”
There was reportedly a similar incident late last month at a college volleyball game between Duke and Brigham Young University. Duke player Rachel Richardson told ESPN that BYU fans directed racial slurs at her while she was serving.
Katy ISD, in a Tuesday letter sent to Paetow parents that the district provided to Houston Public Media, said it had identified some students who “engaged in behaviors that are not aligned with the district’s and the UIL’s expectations for sportsmanship conduct during an athletic event,” and that those students could face disciplinary action. Katy ISD’s media relations department did not answer emailed questions seeking to determine how many students were identified as having been involved, where they go to school, what they are accused of saying or doing, and whether any punishments have been doled out or are expected to be handed down.
“The safety of all Katy ISD students is our district’s utmost priority,” Katy ISD wrote in the Tuesday letter to parents. “Students, staff and community play an important role in keeping our school safe by reporting potential safety issues. We would like to thank those who came forward to report the concern to school and district personnel.”
Kemp-Adams wrote Saturday on Twitter that no actions were taken during the game after she informed campus staff at Jordan of the sounds she heard coming from its student section. She wrote that she subsequently filed a complaint with the school district.
In one of the videos Kemp-Adams posted on Twitter, a student can be heard saying, “Why are they making monkey sounds?”
“We will not let this get swept under the rug and normalized as kids being kids,” Kemp-Adams wrote. “It’s pure unadulterated racism!”
Both individuals as well as teams and schools can be subject to disciplinary action related to inappropriate behavior by game attendees, according to UIL rules, with penalties ranging from reprimands to suspensions.
“The UIL has requested a report from this investigation (in Katy) and will determine next steps at that time,” Zachary wrote.