VANCOUVER, Wash. — Editor's note: Some may find content in this story offensive.
The Camas High School junior varsity (JV) baseball team is under investigation for allegedly using racist words during a match against Skyview High School's JV team at Camas on April 20.
During that game, witnesses alleged that some Camas JV players made racist comments and noises. In a letter sent to parents last week, Camas High School (CHS) Athletic Director Rory Oster and CHS Principal Tom Morris said Camas is working with Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) to determine what happened during the game.
"Harassment, intimidation, and bullying, including racial slurs, are not tolerated in our school community," they wrote. "We will work to make sure that we get to the bottom of this, including assigning discipline as appropriate. Our goal is to make sure that learning happens for our students and that repair and restoration are made to those harmed."
An updated memo released on Monday said all Camas JV baseball games were suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
"It starts at the home. It's unacceptable," said Rory Spanier, whose son plays on the Skyview varsity baseball team.
While Skyview’s JV game was rained out on Monday, Skyview's varsity team played Battle Ground in a game relocated to Propstra Stadium in Vancouver. Before the game, both teams shared a moment of solidarity for Skyview’s JV team. Spanier said he was prepared to face Camas High School’s varsity team, which is not involved in the investigation, following Wednesday’s alleged incident with the JV team.
"They finally canceled the game, but we were prepared," said Spanier. "We printed up some anti-racism signs to take the game and stand in solidarity with our players."
In a message to parents shared with KGW, Skyview High School Principal Andy Meyer said they are working with Camas staff to help with the investigation. Meyer also said, in part, "We are supporting our players as we process our feelings and reactions to this incident. We will continue working toward creating safe, respectful environments that respect diversity and encourage inclusion."
On Monday, Skyview baseball coach Seth Johnson posted a statement on Twitter, calling it his personal view about what he believes is right. His statement said, in part, "Over the past few days with my interactions with Camas, at times I have not felt comfortable with where the investigation was heading. They have taken a stance that numerous words overheard by some Skyview players only rhymed with the n-word and the ape sounds coming from their dugout throughout the game were instead seal noises."
Johnson added that with their words and actions, the players involved lacked situational awareness and empathy regarding a Black player on his team and Black people in general. Spanier said he agreed with that.
"I hope that whomever is responsible is held accountable," said Spanier. "I hope that the investigation is taken very seriously because this is the second time at that high school in this calendar year that something along these lines has happened."
In December, the Benson High School girls basketball coach accused the Camas student section of yelling racial slurs at his players during a game in Camas. An outside investigation by Educational Service District 112 determined it was likely that inappropriate language was used, but couldn't confirm if racial slurs were used or which students were involved.