Investigation into racial taunts at a football game is 'inconclusive,' according to the OSAA

Investigation into racial taunts at a football game is 'inconclusive,' according to the OSAA ...

According to a letter from executive director Peter Weber to the school districts' superintendents, a third-party investigation into racial taunts allegedly used by members of the La Grande football team on January 11 was deemed "inconclusive."

During a Class 4A playoff game between the teams on Nov. 5, Oregonians and OregonLive, which included Gladstone players and parents, alleging that the Gladiators were subjected to repeated racist misogynys from La Grande players.

Students and staff from both schools, together with Gladstone officials, were interviewed by an independent investigator in collaboration with La Grande and Gladstone. Among the allegations, Gladstone players and parents said an official referred to a Gladstone assistant coach as "that Black guy" during an on-field confrontation.

Our findings were made by the third-party investigator following interviews of students and staff from both schools and the superintendent of La Grande, Weber said. Despite the fact that the respective reports of ongoing racial slurs being made throughout the game were not confirmed. Es was also confirmed that the game official personally apologized to the coach during the game.

"The OSAA stands firm with the expectation that all those who participate in interscholastic activities will do so in an environment that is free from discrimination or harassment," Weber said. "Although the evidence of a racial slur being used was ultimately inconclusive through the thirdparty investigation, it recognized that students, coaches, and families were negatively impacted.

The OSAA and administrators from both schools took several actions to resolve the allegations and provide educational opportunities for everyone involved. La Grande is working on a racial equity program for coaches, administrators, and counselors, which provides information to student athletes. Both schools are participating in the program, which also tackles the issue of equity.

Both teams will review their conduct practices and propose to designate a "host individual" to welcome visiting teams. During one-on-one conversations, both schools engaged in a series of discussions between their respective athletic directors, coaches, and team captains.

There was a possibility for a further demonstrating of solidarity between the two schools.

"We are aware that the La Grande and Gladstone boys' basketball teams were scheduled to play on December 20, but due to bad weather were unable to compete," Weber said. "The original arrangement for students to share a meal before the game to shake hands speaks to the intentionality of both schools and assists in ensuring that future competitions between La Grande and Gladstone will be beneficial experiences for everyone involved." "That's the key of athletics, because it's important to reunify people, educate them on how to interact

According to Weber, the officials who worked the La Grande-Gladstone game will undergo implicit bias and racial equity training, including the one who was confirmed to have refered to a Gladstone coach by his ethnicity.

In recent months, other allegations of racism at high school events have surfaced in Oregon and Washington. Basketball players from De La Salle North Catholic claimed in December, and the Benson girls basketball program alleged that the racist taunts took place during a game in December. Weber told The Oregonian/OregonLive on January 7.

"During the investigation, students and coaches from Gladstone High School expressed their belief that education is the most powerful response to the actions that took place," Weber wrote in his letter to the La Grande-Gladstone investigation. "As an organization dedicated to education-based athletics and activities for students, the OSAA is committed to continuing education and training for its members schools and officials' associations as a result of alleged bias incidents."

Ryan Clarke, rclarke@oregonian.com

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