Valley Center cancels school for Dec. 7 following online threats
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Valley Center has sent a letter to parents and students informing them that school students and faculty will not report on Wednesday, Dec 7.
This is due to online threats following an incident at the Valley Center vs. Topeka High basketball game on Dec. 3.
Toward the end of the game, the district says a Topeka player was fouled and when he went to shoot his free throws an inappropriate chant started in the student section.
There was also some kind of altercation with a baby doll brought from a human growth and development class that may have caused "hurt and concern."
A letter of apology has been sent to the Topeka Public School District and Valley Center says its district leaders are also meeting to discuss the best ways to move forward.
There has also been an online petition started, attempting to remove fans from Valley Center sporting events.
You can read the closing letter that was sent to parents of USD 262 students in its entirety below.
USD 262 families:Out of an abundance of caution for all of our students and staff and after consulting with local law enforcement, all USD 262 buildings and schools will be closed, and all activities will be canceled for tomorrow, December 7th, 2022. Staff members are not to report to work unless specifically requested by their supervisor.The difficult decision to close our schools was a result of online threats received by our district this evening. Law enforcement is investigating these threats. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you and your family. We will share an e-mail update by tomorrow late afternoon.Dr. Cory L. GibsonSuperintendent
Below is an e-mail sent to parents detailing what the superintendent says happened on Saturday along with an apology to Topeka.
USD 262 families:
As you may be aware, there were and continue to be issues regarding an incident during the Valley Center High School vs. Topeka High School basketball game on Saturday, December 3 at VCHS. We want to communicate with you information we are sharing with members of the media as well as a communication we sent to the Topeka High School community yesterday:
INFORMATION AND CONTEXT TO THE VALLEY CENTER HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME:
During a hard-fought boys' basketball game between Valley Center High School and Topeka High School on Saturday, December 3, fans from both sides became very loud and involved. Valley Center High School principals, Mrs. Melissa Seacat and Mr. Chris Asmussen, did their best to handle reported situations, particularly those involving some students in the Valley Center student section. Near the end of the game, a Topeka player was fouled, and when he went to shoot his free throws, an inappropriate chant of "He's a Pu**y" erupted from the VCHS student section. Administrators removed students who were not representing USD 262 appropriately and shifted to a proactive mode to prevent any further negative interactions as the game ended; an off-duty police officer also assisted in getting everyone to leave the game immediately after it was over.
As part of a class at VCHS, a student who was assigned an infant simulator for a Human Growth and Development class brought the "baby" with her to the game. The assignment requires feeding, diapering, rocking, and generally caring for the "baby" all within proximity of the student "parent" over the course of a few days. The student's grade is based on the child's care as recorded by an internal electronic device. Based on a review of videos, the baby was passed around between students during the game. While the "baby" was not brought intentionally as a prop to taunt or threaten Topeka High School, without context, seeing the "baby" and images of the "baby" caused hurt and concern to many, and for that we are very sorry.
We know that our students acted inappropriately and were not representative of our school district. As a result of Saturday's game:
- Valley Center High School administration spent this past weekend, most of Monday, and are continuing to investigate what transpired. They have reviewed video and have had countless interviews with those in attendance.
- VCHS and Topeka High School Administration are working collaboratively to investigate claims of racist remarks being made. As of this morning (12/6), administration from both schools have not found any evidence that such remarks were made during or following the basketball game.
- Valley Center Public School Superintendent, Dr. Cory Gibson contacted Dr. Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of the Topeka School District yesterday morning to offer an apology, and they have remained in correspondence since then.
- As a district, we sent a letter to all VCHS families and students explaining there would be follow-up consequences for those students involved, and that we, as a community, should learn and grow from this experience.
- As a district, Valley Center Public Schools sent a letter of apology to Topeka USD 501 and the Topeka High School community.
- VCHS administration and student leaders are meeting to discuss how we can best move forward and demonstrate to all guests that we are a district that is inclusive and respectful.
- Valley Center High School Principal Lolling and Dr. Cory Gibson have visited with many patrons from Topeka and Valley Center in the last two days. We have apologized and committed that we are better than what was exhibited on Saturday evening.
- Additional support will be added at future games to help with supervision.
- As requested by the local chapter of the NAACP, we met this morning to talk about what happened and how to best move forward.
Regardless of how the situation transpired on Saturday, the fact exists that people were hurt and are continuing to be hurt by what they experienced at our school. We are sorry. As a learning institution, we will take this event and learn from it.
MESSAGE SENT TO TOPEKA SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT ON 12/5/22:
"Topeka High School community:
We are aware of the inappropriate language and behavior exhibited by some of our Valley Center High School students at the VCHS vs. Topeka High School basketball game this past Saturday.
First, we are sorry. We are better than the conduct we exhibited on Saturday. We would never want anyone in our schools, especially visitors, to feel insulted, upset, or disgusted by our behavior. The behavior exhibited was not in alignment with the values or teachings our district strives to uphold. We are embarrassed by this display and will work diligently to keep it from recurring.
Second, we wish to assure you the situation is being addressed by the administrative team at Valley Center High School. Additionally, the administration team and basketball coaching staff are meeting with students including the Student Council to learn from this situation. In addition, USD 262 Dr. Cory Gibson has talked with Topeka School District Superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Anderson offering his apology to her and your community personally.
Finally, we will do better. Thank you for sharing your feelings about your treatment at our high school. Please know we have heard you and we share in your concerns. We will use this experience to learn, grow, and improve.
Dr. Cory Gibson