HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Parents of students at Short Pump Middle School blasted school leaders Wednesday evening with questions surrounding a video which shows some football players simulating sex acts and making racist remarks in the boy’s locker room.
“As a result of all of this, and I’m not sure if other parents probably agree, I don’t trust your judgement,” one woman said as the crowd applauded. “I feel like there’s a complete erosion of trust from the top down.”
School board member Micky Ogburn facilitated the discussion that included the superintendent, school staff and Central Office administrators.
“We would like to keep you updated on the steps being taken to address the recent incident in the football locker room,” school officials said in a message to parents announcing the meeting.
Some of the parents said they were upset because they learned of the video from media reports instead of being first notified by the school.
Principal Thomas McAuley laid out a specific timeline of exactly when the district became aware of the video and the subsequent actions taken by school leaders.
“By Monday at 10:30 a.m., I received the video from another school’s administrative team. By 10:45, the entire Short Pump Middle School administrative team had been briefed and an investigation ensued," McAuley said. "By 11 a.m., I spoke with Henrico County Police. By 11;09, I sent members of Central Office the video."
A mother of one of the football players told WTVR CBS 6 reporter Jon Burkett that three players have been suspended over the video.
School officials have not commented on disciplinary action, citing privacy concerns. But some parents think the video should be treated as a criminal matter.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and Wednesday is Unity Day 2017.
A parent of one of the football players, who was not a part of acts, told WTVR CBS 6 late last week that white students pinned black students to the locker room floor and benches and dry humped them, while yelling racist comments.
A video of the incident was posted on Snapchat. In the video, text placed over the simulated acts read, “We gonna (expletive) the black outta these African-American children from Uganda.”
CBS 6 reached out to Henrico Police, who said they are aware of the video and are investigating.
After news of the video spread, the district announced the football team was forfeiting the rest of the season.
In a letter to parents, officials said the team would continue to hold practices where code of conduct stands will be discussed.
“A mandatory component of practices will be discussions that focus on reporting responsibilities, accountability, ethics, sexual harassment, and racial tolerance,” read the letter.
Earlier this week, several parents of children on the football team said their kids are scared to be at school and demanded the school board take various corrective actions.
"When I saw today that my son is scared to be at the school and he feels like the school is not protecting him, I feel I failed him by moving him to this school district," one parent who asked us to conceal their identity said. "There are threats being written by adults about targeting certain races because of this," the parent said.
The parent said her son had nothing to do with the video, but is on the football team. She said she was concerned about the school system's response to the video.
"We are being told that we're raising our children horribly, but the school never told us any of this was going on, and without knowing what's going on how can we correct the behaviors? How do we know what our children are doing if the school does not tell us?" the parent asked.
Shortly after the video made it into the public arena, the school board announced the team would forfeit the rest of its games, but continue to practice and undergo sensitivity training.
"This was a horrible event, it was absolutely horrible what happened, but we want to be a part of the solution," the parent said.
The parent and others said they want to be included in the action plan for addressing the problem. They also want to ensure there is always adult supervision in locker rooms, and make clarifying statements to the public to remove ambiguity from their response to the situation.
"These behaviors are pervasive, and we need to make sure we are looking at the complete picture as to what happened," the parent said.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Responds to Short Pump Middle School Video
Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said her office is investigating the matter.
"I wanted to ensure that the citizens know that, working with local law enforcement, an investigation is ongoing. If laws have been broken, then my office will respond appropriately," she said. "I wanted to ensure that the citizens know that, working with local law enforcement, an investigation is ongoing. If laws have been broken, then my office will respond appropriately."