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Racist slurs hurled at San Clemente High football game, investigation confirms

Lincoln High School
Lincoln High School played a football game against San Clemente High at Thalassa Stadium on Sept. 13, seen here three days later.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

An investigation by San Clemente High School has confirmed that racist slurs were directed at students from a visiting school during a football game two weekends ago.

The game against San Diego’s Lincoln High School took place Sept. 13.

“Several students from Lincoln High School stated that they were called racial slurs in the restroom and around the snack bar area; based on our extensive investigation, we were able to confirm that two individuals in the restroom used a racial epithet when addressing a Lincoln High School student,” San Clemente High principal Chris Carter wrote Friday in a letter addressed to both school communities and posted online by the San Clemente Times. “In addition, statements we collected confirmed that derogatory words were heard in our bleachers.”

San Clemente football coach Jaime Ortiz initially said there were no incidents or taunts involving the teams. The principal’s letter did not say whether the slurs were made by San Clemente students or adult spectators, nor did it say whether anyone would be disciplined in connection with the incident.

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A teen who identifies herself as a Lincoln High majorette wrote in an Instagram post that she was subjected to racist taunts by both children and adults at the game. A letter sent to Carter by Clovis Honore, president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP, also stated that both school-age and adult fans harassed the Lincoln students.

“During the game, multiple spectators heckled the Lincoln players and cheer squad, repeatedly using racial slurs includ[ing] the ‘N-word,’” Honore wrote Sept. 16. “Furthermore, cheer squad members were racially harassed in restrooms, again including the ‘N-word.’ ”

San Clemente High’s investigation included interviews with students, parents, alumni and staff from both schools, as well as the review of eight hours of surveillance video, according to the letter from the principal.

“As a school and as a district, we do not tolerate racist or hateful rhetoric and actions that target any group or person,” Carter wrote. “While we strive to be a diverse and welcoming school community, our own students have told us that we have work to do.”

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Students from both schools will participate in a one-day workshop facilitated by the Anti-Defamation League, and the organization will provide ongoing resources and support to San Clemente High “to address implicit bias and hate speech,” according to the letter.

Officials at Lincoln High School have concluded their own investigation into the allegations, principal Stephanie Brown wrote in a Facebook post Friday.

“Our students were subjected to anti-African American, anti-LatinX and anti-gay verbal abuse,” she wrote. “African-American students in particular were told to go back to Africa.”

The investigation also found that San Clemente security guards and staffers ignored “repeated requests for assistance” from Lincoln students, she wrote.

Lincoln has asked the San Diego Unified School District for additional resources to provide students with crisis counseling and plans to offer teachers training “in bringing communities together following an incident of hate,” Brown said.

“The most important finding from my investigation is that our students behaved themselves with the dignity and self-control we expect from them,” the principal said. “I could not be prouder of their restraint in the face of open racist abuse.”

Brown said she planned to post a complete copy of the findings on Lincoln’s website early this week.


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