Valley Center students disciplined for offensive behavior at high school basketball game

Several students at a Kansas high school have been disciplined for their behavior during a high school basketball game after a coach accused them of making offensive chants toward his team.

Topeka High School Coach Geo Lyons said his team was subjected to “racial slurs, threats and disgusting taunts” by students from Valley Center High School at a game on Dec. 3. He also said Valley Center students taunted his team with a naked Black baby doll.

The principals of the two schools said in a joint statement Friday that a review of game footage and interviews with game attendees resulted in “several” students being disciplined but federal law prevents them from saying how many students or the type of discipline.

Amy Pavlacka, a spokeswoman for Valley Center, said the schools’ joint investigation did not find any racist taunts from the student section.

“Any racial words that were used were isolated and made by individuals,” she said in an email.

The principals’ statement also said some information circulated after the game was factual but “there have been numerous reports that are exaggerated and/or inaccurate.”

“This has led to responses from both communities that have become inflamed and disappointing,” the statement said. “This is not appropriate, does not provide for a productive environment where true change can occur, and is currently being addressed by the schools and communities appropriately.”

The controversy received widespread publicity on Tuesday. The next day, Valley Center closed its schools, saying the district had received a deluge of online threats. Classes resumed on Thursday with an increased law enforcement presence.

Valley Center officials apologized after the game for the behavior of some in its student section and Friday’s statement repeated that apology.

“Valley Center and Topeka High Schools are committed to work together to repair the harm that has been done, and to take actions both separately and together that will lead to positive and productive change with regards to addressing sportsmanship and racism,” the statement said.


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