110519-du-USD 475

Mari Edwards speaks in front of the USD 475 Board of Education during public comments at a Monday evening meeting.

An alleged incident of racial animosity at the Oct. 11 football game between Junction City and Manhattan isn’t going to be forgotten, according to Junction City High School parent Mari Edwards.

Edwards attended the regular monthly meeting of the Unified School District 475 Board of Education, where she spoke tearfully about her concerns during public comments.

Allegedly, after the game as the JCHS cheerleaders exited the stadium to their bus, they were verbally assaulted by Manhattan fans, some of whom shouted racial slurs at the girls.

Edwards attended the game, but did not witness any of the alleged harassment because of where she was seated, she said.

“I don’t want this to die down,” Edwards said, after the meeting.

She expressed unhappiness with the stance of silence the district has adopted concerning the incident.

“To ignore it is to approve of it,” Edwards said.

She was concerned over communication about the incident between the parents and the school district, saying she learned about the incident from the newspaper.

“The first thing would be for the administrators to actually say something to the parents,” Edwards said. “That an incident did occur, that they’re investigating it, as well as what their plans are to handle the safety of both the athletes as well as the students who went to the games. I would also like to hear about the policies regarding sportsmanship — what is required. They do a really good job of indicating — of outlining all the policies and procedures for the athletes who participate, but what about the rest of the community? Because the incident that occurred also involved the wider community, so it seems that the students understood, but not the community itself.”

Edwards, who plans to attend the upcoming board meeting of Unified School District 383 as well, hopes to see sportsmanship policies spelled out to fans of all ages in both Junction City and Manhattan. She feels the policies need to be strictly enforced, as well.

Edwards asked the board to keep JCHS parents such as herself updated on the investigation which is currently ongoing into the alleged incident, to foster stronger communication with district parents, and to provide training for students and staff on how to deal with incidents of racial harassment.

“I’m hoping that this doesn’t get pushed under the rug and we continue talking, because we’re not done playing Manhattan,” Edwards said.

There’s still a chance this year that the two teams may meet for a rematch, she said. Edwards doesn’t want tensions to boil over yet again.

Edwards hopes this will lead to more civilized behavior from fans at future games. She said she had heard stories from other fans who had attended sporting events against Manhattan.

This is not the first time, she said, that tensions have flared during match-ups between JCHS and Manhattan, she said.

“When I bring it up and it’s not a shock to anybody, it means that it has been happening,” Edwards said.

District officials did not address Edwards’ concerns during the meeting. They also had not responded to a request for comment on the issue by the time the paper was sent to press Tuesday morning.

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