Wicomico County to stop all athletic competition with Kent Island
SALISBURY, Md. – Superintendent for Wicomico County Public Schools, Dr. Micah Stauffer, has announced that the school district plans to halt athletic competition with Kent Island High School for the time being. The announcement coming this week as the school system continues to investigate what led to the altercations at the end of the Parkside-Kent Island boys basketball playoff game on February 24.
The game ended with under a minute left in the fourth quarter when a Parkside player threw a punch that struck the head of a Kent Island player. This altercation resulted in a delay, and the game was eventually called by officials with 42 seconds remaining with Kent Island ahead by four points.
As previously reported by 47 ABC, multiple players, fans, and coaches have alleged that they heard racial slurs and actions from Kent Island players and fans before and during the contest.
Queen Anne’s County Public Schools has said that they conducted a thorough investigation into the accusations made, and found no evidence to support those claims.
WCPS is now petitioning the Bayside Conference and the MPSSAA to allow for a waiver to avoid their teams suffering a penalty for not agreeing to participate in schedule spring sports competition.
Here is the full statement from WCPS superintendent Dr. Micah Stauffer from March 14:
“Back on February 24th, the Parkside High School boys basketball team traveled to Kent Island High School to play in the first round of the state basketball playoff tournament. As described in the statement that WCPS distributed on February 28th, Parkside players, coaches and fans reported hearing racial slurs and race-based derogatory comments before and during the game. These comments came both from Kent Island players and fans and led directly to incidents late in the game. In addition, as was also included in the February 28th statement, this is not the first time that WCPS schools and teams have reported hearing similar racially derogatory language or seeing racially derogatory actions by Kent Island students. I have also learned that in past incidents, WCPS has been assured by Kent Island High School officials that these types of
behaviors were being addressed and would not happen again. It appears from the information we have gathered that despite these assurances, the behaviors have persisted.
“In light of this information, it is clear that a thorough investigation by an independent party is needed. It is also clear that this investigation will take time to complete. WCPS always believes it is in the best interest of students for our school system to model cooperation and do everything possible to find a way for competition with Kent Island High School athletics to continue. However, after much discussion within WCPS considering the information from the February 24th basketball game and descriptions of past incidents, along with the two statements from Queen Annes County Public Schools regarding this incident and preliminary discussions with Queen Annes County Public Schools administration, we strongly believe we must focus on the safety and well-being of our student athletes. This focus must occur before,
during, and after the competition on the field, even at times when students may not be directly supervised or within earshot of adults. All of this raises a lot of uncertainty and concern for our coaches, student-athletes, and community. Because of this, we feel it is in the best interest of
our students for Wicomico County high schools to not engage Kent Island High School in athletic competition until such time that an investigation can be completed, and appropriate steps can be put in place as a result of the findings of that investigation.
“The 2023 spring sports schedule was developed and approved back in 2022. WCPS plans to immediately petition the Bayside Athletic Conference and Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association to allow for a waiver of these regular spring season athletic contests with
Kent Island High School so that our WCPS high schools are not penalized in any way from not playing in these specific games. We will work to schedule other games to fill any vacant slots as necessary. I’m disappointed that we have to take these steps, but the safety of our students is
always our first priority. Thank you.
– Superintendent Dr. Micah Stauffer”
47 ABC reached out to the QACPS superintendent’s office for a response to the statement issued by WCPS. QACPS communications specialist Lanette Power-Waters sent us this statement:
“QACPS is in receipt of WCPS’ statement from March 14, 2023 and continues to be fully willing to cooperate with a third-party investigation to alleviate concerns raised by WCPS. As stated in several previous press releases, QACPS has conducted a thorough investigation, and has found no evidence to support the unfounded claims made by WCPS.”