San Clemente High School investigating claims of racist taunts during football game against San Diego Lincoln High

The San Clemente High School administration is investigating claims that Lincoln High of San Diego students were the targets of racial slurs and taunts Friday night during the teams’ varsity football game at San Clemente High.

The San Diego branch of the NAACP sent a letter to San Clemente Principal Chris Carter and to Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent Kirsten M. Vital requesting that action be taken.

According to the letter: “During the game, multiple spectators heckled the Lincoln players and cheer squad, repeatedly using racial slurs include the ‘n-word.’  Furthermore, cheer squad members were racially harassed in restrooms, again including the ‘n-word.’ This harassment came not only from high-school-age youth, but also from adult fans.”

The letter also stated: “We are considering further action, including seeking forfeiture of the game and suspension of SCHS from the CIF, as well as filing formal complaints with CUSD, the Equity Office of the California Department of Education, and the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Education.”

Capistrano Unified School District public information officer Ryan Burris said Monday the district office is working with San Clemente High to investigate the allegations. An examination of eight hours of video began Sunday, Burris said. He said there is no audio attached to the video.

Burris said social media is also being checked to see if any students from San Clemente or middle school students or anyone else posted anything possibly related to the allegations.

Burris said having a visiting team at a CUSD school’s home athletics event is like having a visitor into one’s home.

“We want them to feel welcomed,” Burris said. “That is our goal that we will continue to work with staff and students on. If they don’t feel at home then that is something we need to fix.”

San Clemente High School sent a letter from Carter to the parents of its students:

We are deeply concerned by the allegation that racist and offensive comments were directed towards students and fans of Lincoln High School at the football game this past Friday night.  As the Principal of San Clemente High School, I work with my faculty, staff, students, families, and community to maintain the highest standards of respect for all individuals. We do not condone racist speech or actions at our school, and we unreservedly condemn hateful rhetoric that targets any person or group.

We are conducting a thorough investigation on these accusations with our Orange County Sheriff’s Department, administration, staff, and others who were present supervising the game. We take these claims very seriously. We ask the communities of San Clemente and Lincoln High School to please share any evidence that would assist us with the investigation. Please send any evidence or statements directly to Assistant Principal, Cameron Lovett, at [email protected]

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, we will use this opportunity to take specific action with our school community to ensure that our words and actions meet our high standards and that every single person on our campus as a student, family member or guest feels safe and welcome. We look forward to working with both school communities to ensure a positive resolution.”

San Clemente defeated Lincoln 29-0.

San Clemente coach Jaime Ortiz said via email that he was unaware of any alleged incidents until Saturday morning.

“Both Lincoln Head Football Coach David Dunn and I have stated publicly that it was hard fought game between two quality teams with no issues before, during or after the game,” Ortiz said in the email.

In a letter posted on Facebook on Sunday, Lincoln principal Stephanie Brown said several students attending the game were “met with racial slurs by the fans of the other team” and the Lincoln administration would be investigating the matter.

The Lincoln cheerleading squad left the game early because of the taunts, according to reports.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement Monday afternoon to address claims that deputies at the game Friday night did not act after being told by Lincoln fans of racist comments coming from San Clemente fans. “Claims that OCSD deputies did not respond for requests for assistance to this incident are inaccurate and misleading,” the statement said.

On Monday morning, several activists, including representatives from Generation Justice, a youth activism organization, and NAACP San Diego, held a press conference near San Clemente High School.

“There was other racial slurs, they were calling them dogs, saying they would dog walk them,” said Generation Justice’s Aeiramique Glass Blake, who added that no one came to the game “to be greeted with the hate and the rhetoric they were greeted with.”