Racial concerns worked their way into the Geary USD 475 Board of Education work session Monday evening. Board members are angry at what was characterized as race based behavior toward Junction City High School students. They have approved a motion condemning the actions, while USD 475 administrators are conducting an investigation and having conversations with administrators in USD 383.
The topic was first brought to light at the school board meeting by Board member Jim Schmidt. “Both during and after the Junction City – Manhattan football game there were some very unfortunate events that some of our students had to endure. I know that it would behoove us as a board and a district to condemn those activities so that our students know that we support them.”
Schmidt continued by saying, “I know we’re not innocent of this within our own community because there have been some things in the past that have occurred. But if we can’t get our act together then I just think it’s time that Junction City and Manhattan take a break. This is absolutely ridiculous. Those things should not occur in this day and age, and apparently it also occurred on the playing field.”
Schmidt said he talked to staff and community members on this subject. ” When they feel that they have to cover up their JC Blue Jay emblem so that they can get through the parking lot….really? That’ s the day we live in, that’s where we are right now. And the things that were being chanted in the parking lot to our fans and to our cheerleaders and to our staff members, I condemn it, publicly I condemn it. And I hope Manhattan steps up and does the same thing. Shame on them if they don’t.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Eggleston said at the end of the game when people were leaving the field “there was a space between the fence where they were walking through and getting to the bus where our cheerleaders had some inappropriate comments made to them. Same thing happened from my understanding in the crowd as individuals were leaving, some comments were made that were inappropriate as well. ” Eggleston added those were by individuals, community and maybe even students.
Eggleston noted that administrators at Junction City High School have been in contact with their counterparts at Manhattan High School and have been working and talking with them about steps to mitigate this type of behavior as they move forward in the future. “Additionally there were some comments that were made, alleged, that a referee may have stated to a student. That has also been reported.
Eggleston confirmed this is what USD 475 leaders have been told and has been brought to their attention by students but it was not heard by district administrators. Schmidt commented however that the cheerleading coaching staff did all ” they could to get our cheerleaders onto the bus and out of the environment.”
USD 475 Board of Education President Rina Neal said it’s alleged. “The thing is we condemn those type of acts. We don’t tolerate that type of behavior, those conversations, those negative racist comments. So yes they’re doing an investigation but we still condemn it. Hopefully Manhattan will come forth and say they condemn it as well. but it is not appropriate for us as a Board to just ignore that it happened because it did happen and we were made aware of it. ” Neal noted this was race-based. “There’s ways to curtail some of this, and come to the table, and come up with solutions. But it needs to be condemned.
Neal noted, “Times have changed and these things are more prevalent than they have ever been before. There’s a comfort level and I don’t want to get into politics, but there’s a comfort level for people doing things like that, and it just needs to be condemned, and it shouldn’t be tolerated and our students shouldn’t be subjected to that, our fans shouldn’t be subjected to that, and our players shouldn’t be subjected to that either.”
Eggleston suggested that the next time the school board meets they can go into executive session where there can be more details and the issue can be discussed. “Of course we don’t want to throw our good name and character, throw anybody, especially when everything’s alleged at this present moment and I would prefer us to have that conversation then.” Eggleston added he would be talking to his counterpart in Manhattan this week.
The Board of Education then voted via voice vote to condemn the alleged actions that occurred at the Junction City – Manhattan football game on October 11th.
JC Post will contact Manhattan USD 383 officials for their response.
By Dewey Terrill