In the wake of spectators at a high school baseball game in Waverly shouting racist comments at a Charles City player, Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC) member schools issued the following statement on Friday, July 3:
As administrators and board of education members of the member schools of the Northeast Iowa Conference, we know racism exists in our conference, our schools, and our communities. We also know we are called to stand strongly for the dignity and rights of our students of color. Civil rights advocate and athlete Jackie Robinson once said, “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”
In that spirit we stand together today in stating Black Lives Matter in the Northeast Iowa Conference, and in each of our seven school districts. We will not tolerate acts of racism, bigotry, or hate from participants, employees, or spectators at our events. Each member district has board policies aligned to Iowa Code guaranteeing students freedom from harassment or bullying based on the student’s actual or perceived trait or characteristic, including the student’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, sex, age, religion, marital or familial status, ethnic background, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental ability or disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical attribute, political party preference, political belief, or socio-economic background. We recognize we are the seven individuals responsible for ensuring this freedom is guaranteed to each student in our member schools.
This summer we are aware of acts of hate and racism directed at a Storm Lake Schools’ softball player, and here in our own conference against a Charles City Schools’ baseball player. We are disgusted knowing any Iowa student-athlete is the target of these attacks. We believe racism and hate are learned, and can be unlearned. We recognize our school systems play a role in maintaining systemic bias and oppression. We embrace the challenge to use our roles as leaders to become better.
We also urge our anti-racist students, parents, employees, and community stakeholders to feel supported and emboldened to shine a light on racist, bigoted, and hateful acts. We want our conference and our schools to be places where each student is able to feel supported and empowered, and to experience pride and joy in learning, competing, and performing. Hate and racism are not welcome in the Northeast Iowa Conference. Our school boards and our administrative teams are committed to taking proactive steps to create the conditions that eliminate racism, bigotry, and hate.
Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC) Member Schools Statement Signees:
Jay Mathis, Allamakee Community School District Superintendent of Schools
Mike Fisher, Charles City Community School District Superintendent of Schools
Mark Lane, Decorah Community School District Superintendent of Schools
Ted Ihns, Howard-Winneshiek Community School District Superintendent of Schools
Jay Jurrens, New Hampton Community School District Superintendent of Schools
Josh Ehn, Oelwein Community School District Superintendent of Schools
Ed Klamfoth, Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District Superintendent of Schools