The Texas school district where controversial “White” and “Power” signs were captured by a student’s cell phone camera at a recent high school basketball game has completed its internal investigation to determine any if wrongdoing occurred. The investigation resulted in a temporary ban on signage at the school’s sporting events.
Lewisville Independent School District (ISD) interim superintendent Kevin Rogers announced that their week-long investigation into the February 13 sign incident was conducted through a variety of means. Those included witness interviews, including Flower Mound High School (FMHS) and Lewisville ISD administrators, staff, students and spectators; an in-depth review of surveillance and game footage; social media research; and cooperative, continued communication between FMHS and Plano-East Senior High School (PESH) administrators.
Breitbart Texas previously reported that the photo of the the signs went viral on social media and ignited a media firestorm. Rogers rehashed some of the details in the district’s press release. He pointed out that “at some time during the FMHS versus PESH boys’ varsity basketball game, a student displayed the “White” and “Power” combination of cheerleading spirit signs but it was not displayed for more than 30 seconds.
Rogers added, “It has been long-time tradition that cheerleading signs are used at sporting events to read, ‘Navy & White’ representing FMHS’ school colors and ‘Jaguar Power,’ a FMHS mascot cheer.”
He debunked reports “indicating the FMHS student section was chanting ‘White Power’. Rogers said these claims were “unsubstantiated”.
The Superintendent folded into his findings, a completely unrelated event that took place on the same date. He said that “two individuals, one a current FMHS student and another, a former LISD student, who due to inappropriate behavior, were removed from an FMHS campus soccer game. After their removal, the former LISD student defecated on one of Plano ISD’s buses in the parking lot.”
Rogers commented that “the intolerable behavior” would not be allowed on campus but it was unclear if he meant the signs at the game or the feces on the bus.
For clarification, Breitbart Texas contacted Lewisville ISD spokeswoman Liz Haas who said that the district could not comment further on any actions taken or not taken regarding the student or students because of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). She said that information is part of a student’s education records and that remains private.
FERPA is the federal law that prohibits the disclosure of students’ personally identifiable information by federal, state, or local education entities, without written consent of the student or his parents. However, in 2013, under the Obama Administration, Congress “gutted FERPA to enable schools to release a child’s record to child welfare agencies without the consent of parents. In some cases, a child’s information may be released without even informing parents,” Breitbart News reported.
FERPA has been in the public eye because of the state longitudinal databases (SLDB) that track meta-data on students for accountability reporting purposes. Consternation over what information is being shared with third-party sources continues to trouble parents nationwide. In Texas, that system is Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), as Breitbart Texas has reported.
However, in this instance FERPA precluded the district from sharing this information with the news media.
In the statement, Rogers also pointed out that Lewisville ISD is reviewing its district’s procedures for the conduct for all players, students and attendees to promote good sportsmanship. A provocative concept that, on the one hand, has an admirable goal yet it also opens the door to question what will qualify as acceptable behavior or what the district called “appropriate cultural proficiency” and “a positive digital footprint.”
For the time being, FMHS students will no longer be able to utilize or obtain cheerleading signs during sporting events. According to Rogers, the district “added additional security” and banned signage. The schools, FMHS and PESH, are working on “unity and sportsmanship.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.