Change in athletic program causes controversy at Kenston forest - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Change in athletic program causes controversy at Kenston forest School

BLACKSTONE, VA (WWBT) - There's a controversy brewing at a private school in Blackstone. Some Kenston Forest parents and students are fired-up over changes made to the athletic program.

In an effort to boost its athletic program Kenston Forest invited three basketball students from Senegal, Africa, to attend the school. The move is a first for the school.

The trio accepted and other basketball players on the team, like Caleb Williamson, were glad to have the new additions.

"It was like a family. We eat together. We play together," said Caleb.

Two of the foreign athletes will graduate this school year. The basketball coach wants to replace them with another teen from Senegal.

The controversy began to brew when the board of directors decided to limit admission to students coming from another country -- specifically,  foreign students coming to the school to play a sport. Now, there can only be one per team.

Some parents are so upset by the decision they've pulled their kids out of the school, indefinitely. Including Caleb's dad, Wayne.

"We believe there's a certain amount of ugliness in this decision," said Wayne.

He calls the decision discriminatory. But the school board defends its decision -- stating there are a limited amount of slots at the school and a limited amount of host families.

Robert Hawthorne Jr. serves on the board.

"As to any allegation that this was racially motivated in the least that is absolutely false," said Hawthorne. 

The board is expected to re-evaluate it's decision during the upcoming school year.

"We have to strike a balance between the number of kids that play specifically a sport from a foreign country versus the students we have from our original service area."

Both sides agree the three students from Senegal met all academic standards and contributed greatly to the varsity basketball team.

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