Racism allegations from Manual HS principal prompt rebuttal from Weld Central

A letter from Manual HS principal Nick Dawkins accused the Weld Central team of displaying the flag at the game and using racial slurs.

KUSA - On a day when sports, politics and race got America talking - 9NEWS looked into what happened under Friday night lights at a football game in Denver.

A damning letter from Manual High School's principal accuses the Weld Central football team from Keenesburg of racist hate.

Weld Central's mascot is the Rebel. But the school bans the Confederate flag from school events.

The Manual's principal accused the team of displaying the Confederate flag, racially taunting players, and leading to injuries as a result.

Weld Central school leaders said Sunday that there's no evidence it happened.

And Denver Public Schools would not tell us if district leaders believe the principal's account of racial hatred, slurs and physical violence at the game.

The accusation is emotional and explosive.

9NEWS has heard differing accounts from the schools, Manual football players and a Weld Central family.

What we still don't have is any photo or video evidence of what happened. The accusations of hate and racism were put in writing by Manual principal Nick Dawkins to the school community.

He said the Rebels football team displayed a Confederate flag during the game, leading to tension on and off the field.

"Three of our players were injured during the game," he wrote. "Some of our players reported that players from the opposing team taunted them with racial slurs."

Weld Central school leaders said staff at the game were monitoring students and didn't see the issues Manual's principal outlines.

They said they reviewed game film showing their bench and stands and did not see a Confederate flag. Weld Central offered to let 9NEWS review the video.

The school went on to say the Manual community and the media have received "significantly inaccurate information" and that any form of racism would not be tolerated.

The district added that if they get proof the allegations are true, the district will take full responsibility.

The school's parent-student handbook clearly tries to distance their Rebel mascot from the Confederate flag - explicitly banning it from school events.

Denver Public Schools declined our request to talk to the Manual principal about his allegations.

PREVIOUS COVERAGEHigh school accused of displaying Confederate flag calls claim 'significantly inaccurate'

And after accusing Weld Central of racism, principal Nick Dawkins asked for space from journalists citing a difficult school year including concerns over the immigration law DACA - and the deaths of two students - in mid-June and early September.

Dawkins asked the media to "respect the healing and grieving process our students are going through by allowing us to return our focus to school."

9NEWS asked DPS if district leaders believe its principal's claim.

The district's statement said only: "We are reaching out to the Weld Central High School community to jointly discuss the events of Friday night and how we can all move forward in a collaborative and positive spirit."

DIFFERING ACCOUNTS

9NEWS spoke to two Manual players who had a different recollection than what the Manual principal described in his letter.

The principal's letter said the Weld Central team displayed the flag. Read the letter in full here.

One of the Manual players we spoke to said he saw the flag hanging on the fence behind the Weld Central bleachers. Another player said he didn't see the flag hung from the fence, but saw Weld Central fans running with a Confederate during warm-ups.

"Everybody was just in shock and they were like why would they bring it here to our school," said senior football player Jeremiah Stasheim-Kukich. "Right now, about racism and hatred and all that, I think they were fully aware of what the situation was going to be about."

Another player, Nick Burton, said it hurt to see the flag.

"It hurt a lot, you know?" he said. "I actually like these kind of people and them just to keep bringing back history... it just hurts a lot."

A father of a Weld Central player said he was there and said he did not see a Confederate flag at all during the game.

"I think that the principal of that school is wrong for accusing children without proof that it happened and it didn't," said James Hamm. "Everybody that was at the game that I know of said that there wasn't a Confederate flag flying."

MOVING FORWARD

9NEWS also reached out to CHSAA on Sunday. They're the authority that regulates high school sports in Colorado to see if they saw a Confederate flag, heard racial slurs, or saw intentional attempts to injure players.

They did not answer our request but released a statement from their commissioner who said she believes their schools are aligned with zero tolerance.

At this point, 9NEWS has not seen any evidence of these allegations. We will continue to follow this story as it develops. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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