Dear APS Community,
Earlier today, Wakefield High School Principal Dr. Chris Willmore sent a letter to his community addressing a racial incident that occurred at a football game earlier this month.Arlington Public Schools is outraged by the way Wakefield High School Varsity Football players were treated by the Marshall High School Football team in their March 5 game. The blatant acts of racism and disrespect towards the Wakefield players are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. From the beginning, APS and Wakefield officials have been in contact with Marshall High School, leadership of the Virginia High School League (VHSL), staff at the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) about what transpired and the lack of action by the officials after repeated attempts by players and coaches to alert them to the behavior. This lack of action by officials as players were spat upon and called racist slurs allowed the situation to escalate, resulting in the suspension of three of our players.
We support Wakefield administrators and the immediate actions they took to fully understand and address what occurred with players and officials. School and APS officials have met with all the players and coaches participating in our football program from the 9th grade team through varsity. Staff talked with them about what happened and allowed them to share their feelings and process this event together. We support our players and continue to advocate for change. Wakefield staff worked with VHSL to reduce the game suspension from three games to one, and have instructed coaches to walk away from any future contest if this behavior is repeated and not addressed by officials.
Our leadership and School Board are calling on VHSL and all parties involved in extracurricular activities to reform and change their practices to ensure our schools and athletic events are free of racism, bigotry, hate speech and unsportsmanlike conduct. We are also supporting Wakefield as it takes actions to strengthen their school community and evolve practices to ensure all students feel safe, supported, and included at school and on the field. APS encourages all students and staff to continue to stand up and call out acts of racism, hate speech and other forms of discrimination when they see them.
Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools