A recent high school boys' basketball game between two Tri-Valley teams resulted in widespread condemnation after one or more San Ramon Valley students allegedly subjected a player on a rival team to racist remarks.
San Ramon Valley High principal Whitney Contrell shared news of the incident from a basketball game between her school's team and Dublin High School in a statement Wednesday to parents and community members the day following the game during which one or more SRVHS students reportedly made racist comments to a Black Dublin player as he was in the midst of a free throw.
"I want to be clear that in no uncertain terms, racist language or racial slurs will not be tolerated, whether our students are in school or elsewhere," Contrell said. "We are all responsible for creating safe and welcoming spaces both at SRV and when we are guests at other schools. Appropriate disciplinary action is being taken, and we will be apologizing to the Dublin High School basketball team and community for this unacceptable and uncalled for behavior."
San Ramon Valley Unified School District communications director Ilana Israel Samuels said that the district had not yet determined how many SRVHS students were involved in the incident.
Dublin principal Maureen Byrne said that she and Contrell had discussed the incident on Wednesday morning, after the former was made aware of it by the Dublin basketball team's coach, Tom Costello. She said in a statement that SRVHS coach Brian Botteen had also been swift in addressing the incident at his team's school.
"This behavior was hateful, uncalled for and not to be tolerated." Byrne said. "It added a hurtful and painful layer to an exciting and challenging sporting event. Both teams played exceptionally and DHS was thrilled with the win."
Byrne added that while school officials were responding by forbidding the SRVHS students involved in the incident from attending any future Dublin High events, she agreed with an assessment from the Dublin player's mother that called for deeper systemic change in the future as well.
"While we are asking that the individual involved understand that they are not welcome at DHS events, this goes beyond one individual's actions," Byrne said. "As stated by our player's mother: 'This is not about shaming the individual who made the comment. This is about change, education and empathy.'"
In a message to SRVHS students on Thursday, Contrell reiterated that racist behavior was unwelcome at the school and emphasized a lack of tolerance for discriminatory behavior ahead of another basketball game that night.
"The behavior of our fans, whether at home or away for athletic contests, reflects on the entire community," Contrell said. "The unacceptable racist incident that occurred at Tuesday night's game created a hostile environment and caused significant harm for those targeted. It has no place at SRV. In the coming weeks, we will be collaborating with our student leaders and staff to ensure we take action against such acts, educate our student body about the harm they cause, and how to be an upstander."
SRVUSD Superintendent John Malloy sent a statement to the district community later in the day on Thursday denouncing the incident, along with other reported racist incidents at the high-ranking and affluent school district in recent months, and promising to facilitate deeper anti-racist efforts at the district.
"You may be aware that we have recently had some incidents of discrimination in some of our schools," Malloy said. "We know that these incidents do not reflect the values of our district and community, and we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our schools. We are providing professional development for our staff, listening to our students and supporting their leadership to bring about change, and exploring ways to partner most effectively with parents/caregivers so that you can support these efforts at home."
Byrne also called for addressing and contending with discrimination at Dublin High from within, asking students, staff and educators to double down on speaking up about inappropriate remarks and incidents.
"In order to continue to be unified in the message that there is no place for hate at DHS, it is critical that we remain vigilant," Byrne said. "As we hold others accountable, we must continue to monitor our community as well. Please be reminded that any language, words or actions that make a person or groups of people feel unsafe or targeted could be considered a hate crime. This includes derogatory comments regarding a person's race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual preference and identification."
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly implied that multiple students were involved in the racist remarks. SRVUSD officials said they have been unable to confirm whether the actions were committed by one student or multiple students. Embarcadero Media regrets the confusion.
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