Valley Center school district cancels classes due to threats following incident at basketball game

Valley Center High School
Valley Center High School(KWCH)
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 10:16 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Tuesday night: The Valley Center school district is canceling classes for tomorrow (Wednesday) due to threats that followed an incident at a basketball game.

The district issued the following statement from Superintendent Dr. Cory Gibson in a note to families in the district.

USD 262 families:

Out of an abundance of caution for all of our students and staff and after consulting with local law enforcement, all USD 262 buildings and schools will be closed, and all activities will be canceled for tomorrow, December 7th, 2022. Staff members are not to report to work unless specifically requested by their supervisor.

The difficult decision to close our schools was a result of online threats received by our district this evening. Law enforcement is investigating these threats. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you and your family. We will share an e-mail update by tomorrow late afternoon.

Dr. Cory L. Gibson

Superintendent

Update Tuesday: The Valley Center School District is investigating an incident involving inappropriate that was reportedly used during a boys’ basketball game over the weekend between Valley Center High School and Topeka High School.

The district issued the following statement Tuesday morning addressing the incident and providing steps on how it plans to move forward:

During a hard-fought boys’ basketball game between Valley Center High School and Topeka High School on Saturday, December 3, fans from both sides became very loud and involved. Valley Center High School principals, Mrs. Melissa Seacat and Mr. Chris Asmussen, did their best to handle reported situations, particularly those involving some students in the Valley Center student section. Near the end of the game, a Topeka player was fouled, and when he went to shoot his free throws, an inappropriate chant of “He’s a Pu**y” erupted from the VCHS student section. Administration immediately began removing students involved and shifted to a proactive mode to prevent any further negative interactions as the game ended; an off-duty police officer also assisted in getting everyone to leave the game immediately after it was over.

As part of a class at VCHS, a student who was assigned an infant simulator for a Human Growth and Development class brought the “baby” with her to the game. The assignment requires feeding, diapering, rocking, and generally caring for the “baby” all within proximity of the student “parent” over the course of a few days. The student’s grade is based on the child’s care as recorded by an internal electronic device. Based on a review of videos, the baby was passed around between students during the game. While the “baby” was not brought intentionally as a prop to taunt or threaten Topeka High School, without context, seeing the “baby” and images of the “baby” caused hurt and concern to many, and for that we are very sorry.

We know that our students acted inappropriately and were not representative of our school district. As a result of Saturday’s game:

  1. Valley Center High School administration spent this past weekend, most of Monday, and are continuing to investigate what transpired. They have reviewed video and have had countless interviews with those in attendance.
  2. VCHS and Topeka High School Administration are working collaboratively to investigate claims of racist remarks being made. As of this morning (12/6), administration from both schools have not found any evidence that such remarks were made during or following the basketball game.
  3. Valley Center Public School Superintendent, Dr. Cory Gibson contacted Dr. Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of the Topeka School District yesterday morning to offer an apology, and they have remained in correspondence since then.
  4. As a district, we sent a letter to all VCHS families and students explaining there would be follow-up consequences for those students involved, and that we, as a community, should learn and grow from this experience.
  5. As a district, Valley Center Public Schools sent a letter of apology to Topeka USD 501 and the Topeka High School community.
  6. VCHS administration and student leaders are meeting to discuss how we can best move forward and demonstrate to all guests that we are a district that is inclusive and respectful.
  7. Valley Center High School Principal Lolling and Dr. Cory Gibson have visited with many patrons from Topeka and Valley Center in the last two days. We have apologized and committed that we are better than what was exhibited on Saturday evening.
  8. Additional support will be added at future games to help with supervision.
  9. As requested by the local chapter of the NAACP, we are meeting this morning to talk about what happened and how to best move forward.

Regardless of how the situation transpired on Saturday, the fact exists that people were hurt and are continuing to be hurt by what they experienced at our school. We are sorry. As a learning institution, we will take this event and learn from it.

12 News spoke with Topeka High School Head Basketball Coach Geo Lyons who expressed continued frustration with what happened Saturday and how administrators responded. He said the situation with the doll became a problem when students passed it around and wasn’t just part of a project in that instance.

“The student I sure hope failed that project. We al know what took place with that baby in the stands and the passing it around,” he said. “It was shook at our kids. It was used to taunt our kids.”

Lyons also disputed the Valley Center district’s claim that that it removed students who used inappropriate language. He said he wants more from Valley Center.

“All lies,” he said. “You know the crazy thing, I haven’t heard one word from Valley Center High School, not the principal, not the assistant principal, not the AD, not the coach, the lunch lady. I haven’t heard one word from Valley Center High School.”

KSHSAA has protocols in place for administrators at games to make sure behavior in the student section doesn’t get out of hand.

“We certainly instruct all our schools to make sure they have school administrators present in front of or within the student section. So, if anything were to happen, they could shut it down immediately and they have accurate description of what took place,” said KSHSAA Assistant Executive Director Jeremy Holaday.

He said KSHSAA believes activities it puts on throughout the state “are an extension of the classroom.”

“So, in essence, would you want any sort of student body or fan in general at all saying things that they wouldn’t say in a classroom?” Holaday said.

The Valley Center school district is apologizing to Topeka High School over an incident involving offensive comments. This happened Saturday during Valley Center High School’s home game against Topeka.

In a statement to parents, Valley Center Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Cory Gibson addressed the incident and said an investigation into what happened will continue. The full statement is as follows:

USD 262 High School families and students:

We are writing to address issues stemming from the VCHS vs. Topeka High School basketball game on Saturday.

Some of our students were involved in inappropriate behavior and language. This is not acceptable. There is no place for disrespectful or offensive behaviors and language at any school function.

USD 262 administration has personally apologized to the administration of the Topeka School District and Topeka High School. Additionally, a message of apology was sent to the Topeka High School community. We appreciate the support and follow up by administrators from Topeka High School.

Regardless of how we may differ in our opinions of what is or is not appropriate behavior and language, we made others feel unwelcome, uncomfortable, and disrespected. We can and should do better.

The administrative team will continue to investigate this incident and will seek input from the basketball coaching staff, Student Council, and others to determine possible steps that could prevent a situation like this from happening in the future. We will use this experience to learn, grow, and improve.