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Short Pump Middle School forfeits football season after racist video

Published: Oct. 20, 2017 at 8:33 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2017 at 10:29 AM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - There's growing reaction surrounding the future of Short Pump Middle Schools' football team. Friday, the Henrico School Board announced - as a result of an explicit video captured in the school's locker room - players will have to forfeit the rest of the season.

"I don't know why they're punishing us," one of the players said.

NBC12 interviewed one of the players who just learned the news. His mother asked that he not be identified.

"As a player that didn't have anything to do with it, it's kind of a kick in the gut," he said.

He's referring to the racist video NBC12 was the first to tell you about. Inappropriate behavior in the locker room showcased sexual and racist activity that now has Henrico Police investigating.

In an open letter to the community, the Henrico School board says, "There is no place in HCPS for the kind of behavior portrayed in the video."

Some parents are concerned about how they learned about the incident.

"I learned about it when one of my friends saw your news piece and called me," a parent said, whose son plays on the team.

She says school leaders met with the players and their parents Friday afternoon, one week after the incident and two days after NBC12 brought light to the situation.

"As a parent of a middle schooler, any child, that is not something you want to hear about via rumor mill…The school definitely could have sent an email out saying there is an incident, just to give us a heads up, but to find out about this via a phone call from a neighbor is unacceptable," she added.

As community groups call on a federal investigation, a school staff member is wondering how this could ever happen.

"Every time there's boys in the locker room, there's always an adult in the locker room. That's a requirement," the staff member said.

Now an entire team is paying the price.

"It was a horrible decision made by middle school kids, and kids make mistakes, but they shouldn't happen like this," the player added.

The school board says it will open up a dialogue with students, parents, and school staff to give input into an action plan to avoid ending up here again.

Here is the full letter from the Henrico County School Board sent out to the community:

The Henrico County School Board is deeply concerned by the actions of students in the video taken in a Short Pump Middle School (SPMS) locker room. Adamantly, behavior of this type will not be tolerated in our schools. As noted in the HCPS Student Activities Contract, "Participation in athletics and other student activities is a privilege and as such, requires that students adhere to certain rules.

As a consequence of the students' actions that came to the school's attention on Monday, the remaining football games for the SPMS football team will be forfeited; however, practices will continue. A mandatory component of practices will be discussions that focus on reporting responsibilities, accountability, ethics, sexual harassment, and racial tolerance. We acknowledge that all team members were not involved in the incident; however, we believe there are important lessons/reminders that should be reinforced with all team members.

The school division will also develop action steps for preventing such incidents in our schools. We will include staff, parent, administrator and student representatives in this dialogue. Our hope is to use this very unfortunate event as a meaningful learning opportunity for students moving forward.

Again, there is no place in HCPS for the kind of behavior portrayed in the video. We have extremely high expectations, and students who fail to meet the Code of Student Conduct standards will be addressed promptly and appropriately. While we realize many families would like to know more, we are prohibited from providing information pertaining to students.

As we move forward, we welcome your thoughts and comments as we work to better our school division and community.

Sincerely,
Beverly L. Cocke, Chair
Roscoe D. Cooper, III, Vice Chair
Lisa A. Marshall
John W. Montgomery, Jr.
Michelle "Micky" F. Ogburn

A Short Pump student posted the video on Snapchat. It shows football players from Short Pump Middle School simulating sex acts with black players on the ground and other students on top.

Mental health advocates are calling for the children involved to get help for the trauma, and the NAACP is calling for criminal charges.

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