Update on recent allegations

Student and staff safety and open and transparent communication are top priorities of Kelso School District. In the news and on social media, you may have seen the recent allegations of racial taunts and sexual assault from Kelso High School students at the January 7, 2020, boys basketball game. You may have seen the statement the school issued in response, as well.

Kelso School District has zero tolerance for racism and hate speech and takes allegations of this nature very seriously. After informally learning of the allegations from third parties, more than two weeks after they were alleged to have occurred, we took immediate action and investigated these allegations by reviewing video footage and interviewing players, students and coaches.

As part of our commitment to open and transparent communication, we are sharing the video of the January 7th game that was used as part of our investigation.

As of January 30th, we have not received any formal or direct complaints for either of these accusations.

In our investigation, we determined the following accusations to be unfounded:

  • Racial taunts: It was alleged that when a Hudson’s Bay player was shooting free throws, Kelso students were reported to have been making noises which were said to have sounded like “gorilla noises.” After reviewing game film and interviewing students, it was determined that the students were doing the Scottie dog bark, a common form of distraction used by Kelso students at numerous past sporting events. This bark has also been sounded at various athletes of multiple ethnicities, including white/Caucasian students.  As a result of this sound being misinterpreted as a racial taunt, the student body and teams have been instructed to discontinue this chant for at least the remainder of this season, and pending a more in-depth discussion at the beginning of next year.  We ask for your help in supporting this expectation at games.  
  • In-game sexual assault: An allegation was made that a Kelso player purposely grabbed a Hudson’s Bay player’s genitals. After review of game film, interviews with students, coaches, and Kelso’s athletic trainer, the accusation remains unsubstantiated.

You can view the January 7th boys basketball game here: bit.ly/01-07game. The following timestamps are offered for your convenience:

  • 9:42 – Students doing the Scottie dog bark when a white Hudson’s Bay player is on the foul line
  • 19:34—Students bark when a Hudson’s Bay white player has the ball in front of the student section
  • 22:14 – Students bark when alleged racial taunt victim is at the line
  • 38:07 – The alleged sexual assault/genital grab
  • 38:18 – Referee checks in with alleged sexual assault victim
  • 39:02 – Kelso district athletic trainer starts walking toward Bay sideline
  • 39:24 – Athletic trainer checks in with Bay coach and alleged sexual assault victim

In summary, it is the position of the Kelso School District that these allegations are entirely unfounded and the accusations leveled against our Kelso athletes and student section did not occur. 

It is Kelso School District’s commitment now and always to create an environment that is safe and healthy for high school competition.