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LISD releases findings in FMHS sign situation

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This photo was taken by a Plano East basketball player and circulated via Twitter.
This photo was taken by a Plano East basketball player and circulated via Twitter.

Lewisville ISD officials announced Friday an internal investigation into Flower Mound High School students displaying signs with the words “white” and “power” simultaneously during a basketball game did so for a 30-second interval.

“At some time during the FMHS vs. PESH boys’ varsity basketball game at FMHS on Friday, Feb. 13, students displayed the “White” and “Power” combination of cheerleading spirit signs. It has been long-time tradition that cheerleading signs are used at sporting events to read, “Navy & White” representing FMHS’ school colors and “Jaguar Power,” a FMHS mascot cheer,” said Dr. Kevin Rogers, Lewisville ISD interim superintendent, in a news release.

The inappropriate ordering of the signs was displayed for no longer than 30 seconds. FMHS administrators immediately took action. Reports indicating the FMHS student section was chanting “White Power” during this time were found to be unsubstantiated.

Lewisville ISD officials indicated they could neither confirm nor deny whether it was intentional due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

In the meantime, two individuals, one a current FMHS student and one a former LISD student, were removed from the soccer game going on during the basketball game at FMHS due to inappropriate behavior.

After their removal, the former LISD student defecated on one of Plano ISD’s buses in the parking lot, said Rogers.

“Our investigation began immediately and included interviews with multiple witnesses, including FMHS and LISD administrators, staff, students and spectators; an in-depth review of surveillance and game footage; social media research; and cooperative, continued communication between FMHS and PESH [Plano East Senior High School] administrators,” said Rogers.

“LISD has taken prompt and significant action to address this situation utilizing our Student Code of Conduct and working in tandem with the Flower Mound Police Department. The district is not at liberty to share the actions taken regarding our current student due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, said Rogers.

“In addition, we are beginning an in-depth review regarding our procedures for the conduct for all players, students and attendees to promote good sportsmanship. For the time being, FMHS students will no longer be able to utilize or obtain cheerleading signs during sporting events. LISD will continue to use this incident to further instill the importance of appropriate cultural proficiency and the significance of maintaining a positive digital footprint.

“I want to be clear the intolerable behavior these two individuals modeled has not and will not be accepted in LISD. We have always had high expectations for our students and hold them to those standards both in and outside of the classroom. Again, I am disheartened that the actions of these two individuals have reflected poorly on FMHS, LISD and our diverse communities.”

The furor began when a photo of the signs was posted via Twitter, spreading like wildfire through social media. News reports immediately picked up the story, which went national within 24 hours.

Devin Gifford, a basketball player with Plano East, posted a photo of the signs on Twitter with the caption, “This is ridiculous I thought we passed the racial stage of society” at 10:33 p.m. on Feb. 13.

It would become the Tweet read around the country.

Flower Mound and Plano East are tied for fourth place in 6-6A along with Hebron. In the Feb. 13 match, in a third overtime, Flower Mound beat Plano East 75-73.

The teams face each other again tonight at 8 p.m. at The Colony High School for a game where all signs have been banned.

In Twitter accounts, Plano East has asked fans to dress in black, one of their team colors. Flower Mound tweets from students earlier in the week had indicate they were talking about dressing in white, one of their team colors.

For tonight’s game, LISD has added additional security and no signage will be allowed. Both schools have coordinated efforts to promote unity and sportsmanship at this event, Rogers said.

On Feb. 17, Rogers released the following statement:

“As Interim Superintendent of a very diverse school district and community, I have been involved with our internal investigation regarding the unfortunate occurrence at Friday night’s Flower Mound High School vs. Plano East varsity boys’ basketball game. I want to be clear that this type of incident – however it has been perceived – has not and will not be tolerated in LISD. We have always had high expectations for our more than 53,000 students and hold them to those standards both in and outside of the classroom…. We regret that this unfortunate event has been elevated to this level on so many social media circles.

“I am disheartened that the perceived actions of a few may reflect poorly on two great schools – Flower Mound and Plano East High Schools – school districts and communities. Ultimately, please know we have the highest respect for the students, staff and community of Plano East High School.”

In a letter to The Cross Timbers Gazette posted online Feb. 18, Maddie Craig, a Flower Mound High School student, wrote: “…Last Friday at the Flower Mound vs. Plano East basketball game the other team started yelling racial slurs and words at us and our cheerleaders were spit on. But no, the media won’t say anything about that. The only thing the media is speaking of is how our student section held up two white signs, saying “White Power.”

“My school, Flower Mound High School, has done some amazing things for this community and surrounding communities, and for our school to now be known nationwide as a racist hateful school deeply saddens me as we are a 6A school with amazing students.

“The two kids that had the signs did not “pre make” them before the game. The sign saying “white” is one of our school colors, and the sign reading “power” stands for Jaguar power. The actions of two kids do not make everyone that attends this school a racist.”

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