SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Mountain View High School is under a federal microscope for allegations of “racial harassment,” “retaliation,” and a “denial of benefits.”
Parents allege school officials are treating student-athletes of color differently than their caucasian teammates. The concerns were brought up to the district and parents say the district retaliated against them for it.
“I thought we had good administrators until I started seeing people of color being discriminated against, and how they would not listen, nor acknowledge, or say teach me about it,” says parent Yanabah Wood.
Wood is one of several parents of football player’s who are raising concerns about racism within the Alpine School District’s Mountian View High School. She says the district is sending a specific message.
“You better not speak up because you won’t be heard and we can cover it up, and we can continue this type of behavior, we are not going to give a fair investigation. So that is why I’m bringing it up,” she says.
Karie Sigua says she’s the team’s football mom and had several minority parents ask her for help to get their voices heard.
“We just found out we can follow the policies and processes at the district, that the Alpine School District had laid out for us, but they weren’t following those policies and procedures,” says Sigua.
The parents say they started by bringing concerns to the head football coach who resigned after the last football season.
“The head coach tried to help, and he was shut down by the administration,” says Sigua. “It is really sad that our head coach felt like he had to resign.”
After following district protocols, parents issued a complaint with The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights last November alleging “the Alpine School District is discriminating against students on the Mountain View High School Football team on the basis of their race, color, and/or national origin.”
The Office of Civil rights is looking into three allegations:
- “Treating athletes of color differently than White Students”
- “Failing to address a racially hostile environment”
- “Retaliating against the Complainants for complaining about race discrimination”
“They have covered up the evidence and the proof that has been provided by parents through emails and text messages,” says Sigua.
The Alpine School District has previously ruled the allegations “unsubstantiated.”
Wednesday, the Alpine School District Administrator Public Relations David Stephenson gave ABC4 News Investigator Jason Nguyen the following statement:
As you indicate, OCR has opened an investigation in response to complaints made by certain parents relating to the Mountain View High School football team. Alpine School District is cooperating with the investigation, which is in its early stages. Alpine School District denies that the complaints have merit. The District has no other comments to make on the investigation.
Wood says, “Them being held accountable outside their power source with a more public entity like yours I think will wake them up a little because they can’t control the narrative.”
Parents say this is an issue that should not be swept under the rug.
“I think what it’s going to do is it’s going to wake them up, that they can no longer say blanket statements,” says Wood. “I feel like, in some ways, they are going to have to change their approach in how they address diverse populations.”
If the Office for Civil Rights finds any one of the three investigations to be truthful, the issues stemming from Mountain View High School could cost the Alpine School District federal funding, and or the district could face charges from the U.S. Department of Justice if the district does not meet remedy.