Statement from Georgetown Public Schools related to the Football Investigation

At long last, we received a copy of the final investigation report on Thursday June 30, 2022 from the firm of Foley Hoag, LLC, which conducted the joint investigation commissioned by the Georgetown Public Schools and Roxbury Preparatory Charter School. The purpose was to conduct an independent and unbiased investigation into the events of September 17, 2021, specifically regarding the inflammatory allegations that were made through social media by the coaches from Roxbury Prep and the alleged use of racially charged language by players, teachers, administrators and spectators from Georgetown.

First, I want to say clearly that as the Superintendent of Schools, I am saddened and embarrassed after reading this report about the behavior of two members of the football team and two members of the student body and our head coach  It is truly unfortunate that the Roxbury Prep coaches, players, and fans felt insulted and disrespected because of the actions of these students.  The use of any, and particularly racial, slurs is reprehensible and has no place in our schools or our athletic fields.  I would like to apologize on behalf of our community to the Roxbury Prep Community for the actions of these students.  While there were findings of contributing factors that increased the hostility from their coaches, no team should be subjected to taunting, racially charged language or any conditions that cause them to feel unsafe or unwelcome while on our campus. That is not what we expect or stand for in Georgetown and we will do anything within our power to ensure that this will not happen again. 

We accept responsibility for the findings included in the report regarding the logistics that contributed to the coaches and players from Roxbury Prep not feeling welcome and supported  although we wish the coach and the officials had brought this to our attention as soon as issues arose. While the game setup was the same for this game as it has been for countless previous contests, we recognize that some of the tension may have resulted from the layout of the football facility. We have already made adjustments, specifically moving the visiting team’s bench away from spectators, ensuring that there is sufficient staff located throughout the facility to monitor the crowds, and strengthening our internal communication protocols, especially with the visiting team regarding complaints. We acknowledge Roxbury Prep’s perception that they did not feel welcome and reiterate that there was no intention on our part to cause anything but welcome on our campus. 

The names of the students identified in the report and any necessary discipline or sanction will remain confidential as they are minors. We believe in holding our students accountable while providing for restorative justice. Young people make mistakes and will learn from them if given the opportunity to do so.  Our district has been actively working on diversity, equity and inclusion for the past year and training for everyone in our school community is part of the plan for the upcoming year.  With the findings of the report now available, we will review the actions of the coaches and administration and will respond appropriately..

I have been asked countless times why I considered a joint investigation to be the best course of action.  I was the person who commited to this step because I wanted to ensure that we could have the full cooperation of both schools, that the actions of both teams would be examined, and that we would share the cost to have skin in the game. I also knew that the investigation being led by the Georgetown Police Department was primarily focused on allegations against police officers and the conduct of the Roxbury Prep coaches.  The report found that both schools contributed in some way to the unfortunate events of that evening and the evidence confirmed that racial language was used by a few of our students. We have to own that.  While we may not agree with some of the interpretations made by the investigators, we will accept the report and make positive changes. I knew that by sticking up for Georgetown and having this episode reviewed by an independent third party, we would better understand exactly what happened that evening.  The actions of a few individuals do not reflect our community.

I am pleased to learn that Roxbury Prep apologized for the actions of their coaches and hope that they will agree to apologize to the affected students. As the investigator agreed, there is no excuse for an adult putting their hands on a child , especially out of anger and frustration – it never deescalates a problem and it didn’t on September 17th.  

As time has passed, there has been an opportunity for reflection for both schools. Now that the investigation is completed, we can begin the healing process and move forward. Indeed, healing is needed in both communities. While I  do not want to diminish the hurt that was expressed by the Roxbury community as outlined in the report, I think it is important to acknowledge the hurt and damage that the community of Georgetown has experienced as a result of  false and sensational accusations of racist behavior by Georgetown faculty, staff, and the Georgetown Police. These inflammatory allegations were covered by the national media, and while almost all of these accusations were refuted in the investigator’s report, they served to subject our community to unwarranted scorn that was not deserved and that we will always have to bear.   The coaches told the investigators that they were angry, frustrated and felt violated. That is not how we want guests at our schools or fields to feel. We accept this and acknowledge the fact they felt that way, but know the situation could have been handled better by the schools working together to resolve the situation, rather than posting fabricated accusations on social media.  Clearly there were bad choices and decisions made on the part of a few students and coaches on both teams.  I hope the coaches who put their hands on students commit to speaking to our players and sincerely apologize. I also hope the Roxbury coaches will apologize for exaggerating the facts and labeling the entire community of Georgetown for the actions of a few.  I want to apologize to the community of Georgetown for the time and expense of this process yet I feel it was the only way to objectively refute the allegations that were made and to find out what really happened. I believe this report does just that.  While we owe Roxbury an apology for the actions of a small number of students and for the negative perception of Georgetown, I am happy that the report openly refutes that the entire team, faculty, coaches, spectators (except 2), police officers and administrators engaged in racial slurs and other outrageous actions. Georgetown is a wonderful community and we have a lot to be proud about but the events of September 17, 2021 will serve as a reminder that treating people with respect and appreciation are values on which our community is built. 

I want to thank Roxbury Prep for agreeing to conduct a joint investigation and I look forward to speaking directly to them regarding coming to closure now that the report is completed.  I look forward to working with them on a positive path forward.

I also want to recognize the investigators at Foley Hoag. While the scope was broad and the cost was substantial, the situation was taken seriously and the final report better explains the incident that evening. 

Click here to review the final Foley Hoag report.