Read the Entire Report on Racial Slurs

Read the Entire Report on Racial Slurs
April 30, 2007
To: George Russell, Superintendent, Eugene School District 4J
From: Dan Davis, Chief Security Advisor, Eugene School District 4J

An investigation was initiated into alleged racial slurs and inappropriate behavior at the University of Oregon during the Oregon 5A & 6A Basketball Tournament. The focus of the investigation was on 5A schools represented by Roosevelt High School, Churchill High School, and North Eugene High School.

I identified and contacted 86 people with possible knowledge of the allegations and interviewed 71, who were present and had some direct observations.

It appears that the tone was set from the very beginning with Roosevelt students when they felt disrespected. This emotion was predicated on actions from both Eugene schools who had turned their backs toward Roosevelt students and players during introductions. Additional
actions, whether good or bad from Eugene schools became paramount to Roosevelt and amplified their perceptions.

At the conclusion of both games there was inappropriate interaction and conflicts between students that included racial slurs and improper behavior from both sides. This occurred in front of the gymnasium and near the buses.

Based on the totality of responses I find that there is sufficient facts to support allegations of inappropriate behavior and racial slurs. Observations from a variety of students, staff, parents,
and officials attach blame to students from all three schools.

George Russell, Superintendent of Eugene School District 4J, assigned me the task of investigating allegations of inappropriate conduct and racial slurs. Churchill High School and North Eugene High School had been identified by Roosevelt High School as directing verbal abuse
toward them during and after games played at the basketball tournament, March 7-10, 2007.

There were no formalized complaints, however Eugene School District 4J was contacted by the Investigation of Racial Slurs at 5A-6A Boys Basketball Tournament 2007 2 media, OSAA, and the Oregon Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights concerning racial slurs toward Roosevelt students and staff.

My task was to identify, contact, and interview every individual with direct knowledge of inappropriate behavior and/or racial slurs. This included students, staff, coaches, athletic directors, CMS, EPD, and independent witnesses, to ascertain the validity of the allegations.

Formalized complaints had not been filed against the Eugene schools, however a number of incidents had been identified through the media that needed to be clarified.

The following allegations were the focus of the investigation:
1. Roosevelt students were addressed with the “N” word by some Eugene students.
2. Upon seeing Roosevelt basketball players arriving at South Eugene High School to
practice, a South Eugene student asked a question like “what are all these black guys doing here?”
3. Garbage and bottles were thrown at students inside the Roosevelt bus.
4. Roosevelt basketball coach was addressed by the “N” word at a Springfield restaurant.
5. Students threatened to burn down Roosevelt High School.

Individuals and Interviewed (student names have been redacted for privacy):
Bill Bowers OADA
Jean Haugen Retired Teacher
Brad Garrett OSAA
Tom Welter OSAA
Laurie Henry NEHS
Kay Graham NEHS
Bill Wagner NEHS
Antonio Selgado NEHS
Cassie Herderson NEHS
Holly Roberts NEHS
Andrew Flescher NEHS
T.J. Horton NEHS
Mason Drews NEHS
Darren Purcell NEHS
Courtney Coulbourne NEHS
Noor Chaaban NEHS
David Lange NEHS
Barb Williamson NEHS
Jalen Heard NEHS
Dennis Biggerstaff CHS
Doug Kelly CHS
Johnny Lake CHS
Cindy Wilgus CHS
Carleen Robinson CHS
Tim Carmichael CHS
Deb Vobora CHS
Lois Student B CHS
Bryttner Linear CHS
Sky Stickney CHS
Chad Wilson CHS
Jenny Student B CHS
Louis Manwarren CHS
Adriel Villoa Torrez CHS
Tayler Inderbitzen CHS
Corey Rusco CHS
Stephanie Cannon SEHS
Eric Anderson SEHS
John Savage EPD
Stephen Zeltvay EPD
Carl Stubbs EPD
Renee Tobler EPD
Jeff Williams EPD
Mike Galick EPD
Terry Willis EPD
Deborah Peterson RHS
Patrice Kelly RHS
Dennis Karas RHS
Brandy Byers RHS
Student #1 RHS
Student #2 RHS
Student #3 RHS
Student #4 RHS
Student #5 RHS
Student #6 RHS
Mike Schuller CMS
Patsy Potter CMS
Martin Jones CMS
David Jones CMS
Lisa Merrill CMS
Glenn Miller CMS
Eyreka Organ CMS
Connie Sypher CMS
Audie Walker CMS
Heather Cook CMS
Tony Francisco CMS
Wayne Schade Spectator
Barbara Williamson Spectator
Barbara Lemmon Spectator
Judge Greg Foote Announcer

I identified and attempted to contact 86 individuals concerning their respective observations and perceptions. While a number of individuals did not return phone calls, I was successful in interviewing 71 students, staff, parents, police, crowd control, and OSAA.

My interviews were initiated in Eugene and concluded in Portland.
Each interview was predicated on the person’s age, location, school, responsibility, and personal perception of events. While the interviews revealed a variety of observations that were skewed toward respective schools, they all covered similarities about the listed allegations. Regardless of time, distance, and personal focuses, I have been able to develop an accumulated picture of the events in question.

Many of the events overlap, which could be confusing given the variety of witnesses and observations acquired during the investigation. Therefore, I will address each allegation separately with individual comments gleaned from respective sources.

1. Roosevelt students were addressed with the “N” word by some Eugene students. Interviews from the respective schools confirmed the use of the “N” word toward Roosevelt. In some cases the remark was made by students from Eugene high schools but also included
comments from other unidentified students and adults. Additional remarks reported included “coon,” “go back to where you came from,” “you don’t deserve to be here,” and “get out of town nigger.”

There was also a great deal of profanity used. Roosevelt students also engaged in a great deal of profanity and comments such as “cracker,” and “honkey.” What is not clear is if these remarks from the respective schools were retaliatory, and interviews could not identify who or what originated the sequence of events.

One Eugene student admitted using the “N” word frequently but explained that Roosevelt students addressed him with the same slur (he is African American). This student also admitted to making derogatory comments to and about Roosevelt cheerleaders but maintained that it was in response to several racial and derogatory comments directed at him and fellow students.

The media interviewed and identified a male student (Student A) at North Eugene High School that stated he heard a fellow student (Student B) use the “N” word toward some Roosevelt girls. The specific incident also involved a physical altercation between Student B and a female student from Roosevelt that was confirmed by witnesses from both sides.

There is a vagueness that revolves around the conflict concerning who was the aggressor and if Student B was actually punched in the face by the girl from Roosevelt. There is consensus that describes a confrontation between both students based on a pom pom, held by the Roosevelt girl, coming close to the face of Student B. Whether there was a physical altercation or just a verbal altercation between the two is dictated by observation, location, and relationship to each student.

With the exception of Student A from North, no one confirmed hearing the “N” word used toward the Roosevelt girl. Most of the witnesses reported that they did not hear the “N” word
used during the incident were Roosevelt girls standing within 2-8 feet of both girls. During the interview with Student A, he was adamant about hearing Student B use the “N” word during the altercation. He further stated that he was about 10 feet away and that after Student B
was struck by the Roosevelt student, Student A observed a male student, also from North Eugene, intervene by escorting Student B away. Student A said that he took Student B from the other student and escorted her from the area.

A discrepancy exists because Student A’s observations do not concur with other witnesses at the scene. A number of individuals, from both sides, do not remember seeing Student A in the area. Additionally, a member of the OSAA confirmed seeing the altercation and observing a large, blond male student intervene and escort Student B away. The OSAA representative subsequently took control of Student B and escorted her the rest of the way.

Student B confirmed this version along with a friend who had been standing next to her.

I asked individuals who knew Student A, if it was possible that they just didn’t see him with all of the other students in the area. Each person talked about the fact that Student A was a large African American student [description of distinctive appearance removed to protect student identity] stood out in a crowd. During that particular game, Student A was wearing a kilt and had painted his body with school colors [description of distinctive appearance removed to protect
student identity]. Roosevelt students also advised that they did not remember observing anyone with that description.

During the investigation it was revealed that several students, which included Student B and Student A, attended a party later that evening. During the course of several interviews I had asked if they had ever heard Student B utter a racial slur and they all admitted hearing it at the

According to different students, Student B was describing the encounter with the Roosevelt girl, and made a statement that used the “N” word. Student A immediately confronted Student B, who apologized by saying “I’m sorry I didn’t mean you.” Student A accepted the apology and reminded her that she could not say things like that.

Student B and Student A confirmed the comments during their respective interviews. Student A related that while he concurred with observations at the party, he continued to believe that he
heard Student B make the same comments toward the Roosevelt girl immediately after the final game.

Student A said, “I’m tired of everyone telling me that I wasn’t there, I know what I heard.” There is speculation by some that Student A may have mixed up the time and location of his observation.

The fact remains that the majority of witnesses do not recall seeing Student A in the area and do not remember Student B addressing the Roosevelt girl with that specific word.

2. Upon seeing Roosevelt basketball players arriving at South Eugene High School to practice, a South Eugene student asked a question like “what are all these black guys doing here.”

I contacted South Eugene High School assistant principals, Stephanie Cannon and Eric Anderson to ascertain the specifics of statements and interaction. Anderson related that he had been notified by Cannon of a possible racial slur by a South student toward basketball players from

Anderson advised that basketball players from Roosevelt High School were using their gym for practice between games at the tournament. While he did not know the particulars of the situation, Anderson determined that someone should immediately contact the coach and players and apologize if necessary.

Anderson said, “I wasn’t aware of everything that was said but wanted to make sure that the Roosevelt team knew of our concern and that we would deal with it.” I inquired if Anderson thought the players and coach were upset, to which he said, “no, they didn’t seem to be that
concerned and didn’t appear to take it as a racial issue.” Anderson stated that he left them with the offer to contact him if they had any further problems or questions.

Cannon explained that she was notified by a teacher who overheard a freshman girl make a comment concerning all the basketball players from Roosevelt. The comment was similar to “what are all these black guys doing here?” The student was identified and ordered to report to
the office.

Cannon said that when confronted about the comment, the female student denied making the statement. Cannon had the teacher also report to the office and repeat what he had heard, however the student continued to deny making any comment toward the players. I subsequently asked Cannon if she believed the student was lying, to which she said, “no… I have no doubt that she made the comment, but I don’t think she remembers because she is so impulsive in her
actions and words.”

Cannon further stated that she has had numerous contacts with this student because of her impulsiveness. She said that the student has been diagnosed with ADD and does not think before she speaks.

Cannon also stated the female student was adamant that she would never make a statement like that toward players of color. The student concluded by saying, “that’s just not right to say something like that.”

Cannon concluded that she does not believe the student is prejudice and that the phrase itself does not appear to be racial. She acknowledged that she was concerned about how the Roosevelt
players and coaches perceived the comment.

I contacted Roosevelt’s basketball coach, Robert Key, and asked him about his perception of the comment and if he or his players perceived it as racial.

Key acknowledged the incident and advised that he was satisfied with how it was handled, especially with the immediate response
from an administrator. Key said, “I really didn’t take it as a racial comment… It was more of a statement or inquiry…. Plus she was standing next to an African American kid when she said it, so I didn’t think that much about it.”

I did not interview the student in question because Cannon related that she is highly emotional and Cannon had already talked to her about it. Based on the statement and the Roosevelt coach’s perception, contact with the student was not relevant. The teacher who overheard the comment did not want to get involved or to be interviewed.

3. Garbage and bottles were thrown at students inside the Roosevelt bus.

Every interview from students was predicated on which school they attended. Both sides admitted a flurry of profanity from each group, however whether bottles and garbage was thrown at the bus or from the bus is open to debate.

I am unable to establish a concise responsibility or preponderance of evidence for this allegation. It is clear that words and objects were exchanged but who, what, and why cannot be identified.

4. The Roosevelt basketball coach was addressed by the “N” word at a Springfield restaurant.

During an interview with Coach Robert Key, I inquired about the specific allegation. Key related that he had traveled to the Outback restaurant (Springfield) with some friends in order to relax and get something to eat.

Key said that sometime after he arrived, he remembered that he needed to make a call and walked outside to use his cell phone. During his conversation a group of young white men drove by and yelled the “N” word toward him and something about going back to where he came from.

When asked if the young men displayed any colors, stickers, or banners of local high schools, Key said, “I didn’t see any colors or banners, but I don’t think these were high school kids, they looked older.” Key confirmed that they continued to drive away from the restaurant and did not return during the rest of his phone call.

I also asked Key if he had observed any racial slurs during or after the games toward himself or players to which he said, “no.”

5. Students threatened to burn down Roosevelt High School.

This allegation was made by Deborah Peterson, who is the principal at Roosevelt High School. Peterson advised me that she was attempting to get her students on the bus following the game with Churchill High School.

She further stated that during that time she intervened between some
of her students and Churchill students who wanted to walk through the crowd. Peterson said that she stopped their passage and requested that they go around the bus because she was attempting to board her students.

Peterson reported that the Churchill students did not make any comments toward her, that they did comply with her request, and that she did not have further contact with them. Peterson advised that when the bus was almost loaded she returned to her car in order to follow
the bus out of town. While standing near her vehicle, she observed another vehicle drive by with Churchill students inside and yelling at her. She said, “they yelled that they were going to burn Roosevelt down.”
Peterson stated that she immediately got into her car and followed the vehicle while taking pictures of them with her camera phone. Peterson observed them come to a stop and she drove up next to the vehicle and took more pictures of the students inside.

When she assumed there were enough pictures, she terminated her contact with them. Peterson confirmed that the vehicle was not speeding or attempting to get away from her. She also did not hear any additional words from the group and noted that the music in the car was
extremely loud.

Peterson said that after she got back to Portland, she called Churchill High School and provided them with a license number. Initially, the vehicle license number could not be located but was eventually identified and the students, who attended Churchill, were contacted and interviewed. I conducted a follow up interview with the students and found them concurring on every detail except making a threat to
burn down Roosevelt.

One student admitted to making several racial slurs toward Roosevelt students and receiving the same because he was African American. He further advised that he made a number of inappropriate comments, and admitted that he was probably overheard because he is very loud.

He said, “They called me a nigger and I called them a nigger… I was mad because of their attitude toward us, and I don’t back down from anyone.” He continued with, “I would never make a statement to burn down a school, you just don’t say things like that cause it makes people
afraid.” A statement by this student concerned “beating someone down” which may or may not have been construed as burning a school down.

Based on the information available I am unable to confirm or deny that particular statement. Since Peterson has advised that she is not looking for the student to face consequences, I consider this allegation a moot point.

Additional information gleaned from interviews is centered around the perception from Roosevelt that upon their arrival they were treated with disrespect.

The same observation was identified by every person interviewed from Roosevelt. Upon arrival at the University of Oregon, Roosevelt buses were advised to remain parked in front of the gymnasium and not allow students to disembark. They were held on the buses for 30-45 minutes and were told they had to wait for tickets. There was a long line of individuals waiting to get into the tournament and when that line disappeared Roosevelt was advised to enter through a specified entry point. Since they had already purchased tickets and would have a
specific place to sit it was perceived that Roosevelt was being held until everyone else had a chance to enter.
When Roosevelt entered the gymnasium they were booed by spectators and students and observed several people pointing at them. It appeared that people were staring at them before and during the games.

When Roosevelt players came out to warm up they were also booed, and students and staff heard comments, such as: “you don’t belong here,” “you don’t deserve to be here,” and from the students, “this is our house.”

When Roosevelt players were introduced prior to the start of the games, the opposing student sections turned their backs and booed. Roosevelt students and staff felt they had been disrespected by everyone at the games. Both the Churchill and North Eugene student sections turned their backs toward Roosevelt.

Taking into account these negative incidents, it is possible that every situation, comment, and interaction was amplified by Roosevelt students and staff. Each situation took on a racial connotation, regardless of the words or incident, because it implied distinct separation and inequality.

This investigation has confirmed the usage of racial slurs by some students from Eugene schools, as well as by some unidentified adults at the event. Counter allegations toward Roosevelt
students of racial slurs are not relevant at this time since the focus was to ascertain the validity of accusations concerning local students and schools.

Chief Security Advisor