Comal, Hays school districts at odds over alleged use of racial slurs at volleyball game

‘Hays CISD inquiry into the matter finds that the Hays High School students are being truthful,’ district says

Comal ISD is investigating reports of "highly inappropriate and demeaning comments" made on school property. KSAT's Camelia Juarez explains how the district is responding.

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Officials with Comal and Hays Consolidated Independent School Districts are at odds over the alleged use of racial slurs in a volleyball game on Sept. 2.

The back and forth between the districts started after the parent of two Hays High School students who play on the volleyball team, shared a post on Facebook stating that Canyon High School students yelled the N-word at her daughters during the match.

CISD acting superintendent Mandy Epley immediately launched an investigation into the incident and released the findings in an open letter to the community that was sent Friday.

Epley said that the investigation “did not find any evidence that substantiated the claims” that CISD students used racial slurs against the HCISD volleyball team.

However, she did say the investigation revealed that a group of three students was using racial slurs aimed at each other in a separate conversation. Those students were not associated with the students accused of making racial chants toward the Hays volleyball team.

“Hays CISD has not been provided with any findings of the Comal ISD internal investigation into the use of racial slurs at the volleyball game against Hays High School. However, in a statement released after close of business on a Friday afternoon, Comal ISD eventually reaches the conclusion that its internal investigation did find students using racial slurs,” HCISD chief communication officer Tim Savoy said in a district news release sent Monday.

“Comal ISD asserts that students who were having a “conversation” using the slurs were not directing them at the Hays volleyball team. Because it is Comal ISD’s investigation into its own students, it is their conclusion to make,” Savoy said.

He concludes the release by stating that “the Hays CISD inquiry into the matter finds that the Hays High School students are being truthful and have no reason to lie. The district stands by its students and continues to be proud of the Hays High School volleyball team for being brave and calling out hate and racism.”

Epley ends her statement by saying CISD does not tolerate the use of racial language in any circumstance and notes that the “students who were found to have used the derogatory language have all received disciplinary consequences in accordance with the District’s discipline management plan.”

CISD Investigation:

The following statements are directly from the letter Epley sent Friday regarding the investigation.

Last Friday evening, a Hays High School parent alleged on Facebook that several individuals sitting in the CHS student section during the Canyon vs. Hays volleyball game made repeated racial slurs throughout the game aimed at Hays volleyball players. Specifically, according to statements provided by two of the players, when a teammate missed the tip at 45:45 in the video, the boys behind the Hays team started chanting, “make a play (n-word)” six times.

As I said in my statement last week, neither Comal ISD nor Canyon High School will tolerate this type of alleged behavior and the District would investigate this incident thoroughly as the District takes such allegations seriously. To that end, we conducted a thorough investigation that has consisted of reviewing video of the entire game, as well as gathering statements from anyone who could have knowledge of what transpired, including more than 30 individuals who were present at the game consisting of the following:

  • The School Resource Officer on duty
  • 22 students who were in the student section that evening
  • Three parents who were sitting close to the student section
  • A line judge on that side of the court
  • The administrator on duty
  • The CHS cheer coach
  • Hays High School coaches
  • Students in the locker room hallway after the game

In addition, the District asked Hays ISD to assist us in gathering statements from the volleyball team. Hays ISD provided statements from two of the seven Hays volleyball players who were on the bench in front of the CHS student section during the 45:45 mark in the video.

In the spirit of transparency, we have posted the video of the entire game online. As you can see, the chant that was alleged to have been made six times cannot be verified as being said in the video. In addition, other than the two statements from the Hays players, none of the other individuals who provided statements reported hearing anyone make the statement “make a play (n-word).”

There has also been much criticism of the actions of the administrator on duty that evening. According to the Facebook post, the administrator just told the student section to “watch your mouth.” The Hays head coach’s statement asserts that her assistant told the CHS administrator what happened, and that she responded, “Oh no, we don’t condone that. I will take care of it.” You can also see from the video that the administrator addresses the students as she apparently said she would.

Students reported that the administrator came to them and asked if they heard anyone saying any racial slurs towards the opponent’s bench, to which they answered “no.” She also reminded them that the student section should always be positive and cheer for our team.

Apart from the alleged incident during the game, the Facebook post also claims that the Hays team was accosted in the hallway and in the Cougar Den after the match. In analyzing video from the school cameras, the Hays team does cross paths with a group of basketball players coming from the basketball locker room. According to student statements, while there is conversation between two groups of students there is no exchange of racial slurs.

In addition, per the school camera video and a statement from the School Resource officer, there was no interaction between the Hays volleyball team and anyone from Canyon as they left the building later that evening.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.