Wicomico Schools continue to forfeit games until districts come to agreement
SALISBURY, Md. – The forfeits continue to mount as Wicomico County Public Schools continues their push for change when their teams play at Kent Island High School.
WCPS Superintendent Dr. Micah Stauffer took time during the Wicomico Board of Education meeting to update faculty and parents regarding the February 24th incident between the Parkside and Kent Island boys basketball teams.
Wicomico County Public Schools reached out to a number of state organizations to conduct an independent investigation. Those organizations included MPSSAA, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, and the Maryland Inspector General for Education. All of the organizations rejecting WCPS request. WCPS was referred back to the MPSSAA by-laws which state that when there is an issue between two counties the superintendents of both counties need to come together to resolve that issue.
Dr. Stauffer says that Queen Anne’s County Public Schools and Wicomico County Schools had agreed on a third party to investigate the alleged racial slurs during the contest. Queen Anne’s County Schools has released multiple statements regarding their thorough investigation into the allegations, saying they have found no evidence to support those claims made by Parkside students, coaches, and fans.
WCPS was willing to pay for half of the attorney fees of an independent investigation, but QACPS declined to pay for the other half.
“In response to Queen Anne’s not agreeing to pay half of the costs involved for that, the third party attorney is no longer interested in conducting any type of investigation, citing an unwillingness on the part of Queen Anne’s County,” Dr. Stauffer said at the Tuesday night meeting. “Therefore, as we continue providing the community with an update, we are left to continue drafting an action plan with Kent Island athletics and we will pursue the drafting of this plan as if the results of this independent investigation, had it occurred, yielded a confirmation of what was reported to us.”
We are told the next step is for Dr. Stauffer to meet with the QACPS superintendent, Patricia Saelens, at some point in the near future to hash out a workable solution that will prevent these incidents in the future.
Paul Butler, director of communications for WCPS, the policy until the two sides can put guidelines in place to avoid future alleged racial abuse at Kent Island, “our teams will continue to not play Kent Island H.S. in any Spring sports, which results in forfeits for our teams.”
Butler said that there could be forfeits come playoff time if this policy remains in place, but said it could be revisited.
We reached out to Queen Anne’s County Public Schools who confirmed they declined the offer to pay half of the attorney fees for a third-party investigation. We asked why they decided to decline the offer, and sent us the following statement:
“No negative inferences should be drawn by the Wicomico County community or anyone from our thoughtful decision to decline to spend taxpayer funding on a costly third party investigation. We have concluded the investigation is not merited, and will not result in any new findings or different facts than those already provided to the administration of Wicomico County Public Schools (WCPS). Taxpayer resources should be directed only where productive progress will result. Wicomico County Public Schools is certainly welcome to fund the investigation, and Queen Anne’s County Public Schools (QACPS) will continue to fully cooperate.
“As previously stated, we have shared evidence with WCPS administration, including multiple videos, confirming that no wrongdoing on the part of QACPS students was found. Our students welcome athletic contests with WCPS students. We sincerely hope that WCPS will reconsider what we believe to be a misguided decision that ultimately results in hurting student athletes.”
Kent Island boys basketball was declared the winner over Parkside, 68-64, on February 24th with 42.2 seconds remaining in the contest. The game was called after a Parkside player struck a Kent Island player after falling to the ground.