Investigations find students used offensive language at Stanwood HS

Two investigations conducted by the Stanwood-Camano School District into the use of racist slurs by students at a Stanwood High School football game against Lakes High School found that “hateful words were likely used.”

Stanwood-Camano School District announced it had launched an investigation shortly after a Nov. 4 football game between Lakes and Stanwood when community members reported an allegation to both the district and the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) that students used hate speech directed at Lakes High School students at the game.

The first investigation was conducted by the district, which looked into allegations that a group of students used hate speech in the girls’ restroom at the stadium. This investigation found that speech was likely used.

“While the investigation did not identify a specific person, the evidence suggests the incident occurred. As a result, we will refocus our ongoing efforts and actions intended to teach students that such behaviors are unacceptable and never tolerated,” the district said in their statement on the investigations.

The second of the two investigations started when social media posts surfaced and alleged that the students used hate speech in the stands and on the field. This was reported by the Tacoma News Tribune, which then prompted an outside investigator retained by the district to investigate.

“The findings suggest that there was not sufficient evidence to find the use of the “N-word” by players during the game,” according to the district’s statement. “The investigation did find that it was more likely than not that a student used offensive language in the student stands.”

At least one student is facing disciplinary actions for their use of offensive language, as per district guidelines, and further action could be taken if new information is found.

The district wanted to emphasize that they did not support any use of offensive language and they would continue to work towards equity and to “address racist, biased, discriminatory, threatening language and actions every time it is heard and seen.”

“Nonetheless, hateful words and actions do not reflect the values of the school district, Stanwood High School, the athletic programs, and the Stanwood-Camano community. Events like this cause pain and harm [to] students, staff, and communities,” the statement concluded. “Hate must be stamped out before it can grow roots. No matter how small, acts or words of hate cannot become normalized or regular.”

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