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Hays CISD stands by volleyball players after Comal ISD says alleged racist incident 'cannot be verified'

The Comal ISD acting superintendent said that out of more than 30 statements, only those from two Hays HS volleyball players included references to racist slurs.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — Comal ISD Acting Superintendent Mandy Epley said allegations that students from Canyon High School shouted racist taunts at Hays High School volleyball players during a match could not be verified through the school district's investigation. 

KVUE's sister station KENS 5 initially reported that a mother said Canyon students in the front row of the student section shouted the N-word at players from Hays High School throughout the match, and when coaches alerted Canyon administrators of the situation, "all they told the boys was 'watch your mouths.'" The mother said no one was ejected from the game, and the taunting continued even as the players were leaving the gym.

The Comal ISD superintendent said on Friday, Sept. 9, that the investigation consisted of reviewing video of the entire match and getting statements from more than 30 people – including students, parents, coaches and others – who were at the match when the incident reportedly took place. Hays CISD reportedly assisted by providing statements from two of the seven volleyball players who were on the bench when the incident occurred. 

Comal ISD posted the match video online and said the racist taunts could not be verified in the video. Epley said that besides the two Hays volleyball players, none of the other individuals who provided statements reported hearing anyone make the statement "make a play, N-word." 

In the letter to parents, Epley also addressed the claim that the administrator on duty only told the student section to "watch your mouths." 

"The Hays head coach’s statement asserts that her assistant told the CHS administrator what happened, and that she responded, 'Oh no, we don’t condone that. I will take care of it.' You can also see from the video that the administrator addresses the students as she apparently said she would," the letter stated. 

The letter went on to say that students said the administrator came to them and asked if they had heard anyone using racial slurs, to which they said they had not. 

Video from school cameras showed the Hays High School volleyball team crossing paths with a group of basketball players in the hallway. There was a conversation between the groups, but Epley said there was no exchange of racial slurs as claimed in the original Facebook post. There was no interaction between the Hays volleyball team and anyone from Canyon as they left the building that evening, the Comal ISD letter stated.

Although the investigation found there was no evidence to substantiate the claims, Comal ISD's superintendent said during the course of the investigation they discovered that a different group of three students had a conversation that included racial slurs aimed at each other. 

"As I have mentioned previously, the District does not tolerate the use of this type of language in any circumstance. As such, the students who were found to have used the derogatory language have all received disciplinary consequences in accordance with the District’s discipline management plan," Epley said in the letter.

Epley also reiterated that neither Comal ISD nor Canyon High School would tolerate this kind of alleged behavior after the district previously released a statement apologizing "for any inappropriate comments that may have been made." 

On Monday, Sept. 12, Hays CISD released the following statement regarding Comal ISD's investigation:

"Hays CISD has not been provided with any findings of the Comal ISD internal investigation into the use of racial slurs at the volleyball game against Hays High School. However, in a statement released after close of business on a Friday afternoon, Comal ISD eventually reaches the conclusion that its internal investigation did find students using racial slurs.

Comal ISD asserts that students who were having a “conversation” using the slurs were not directing them at the Hays volleyball team. Because it is Comal ISD’s investigation into its own students, it is their conclusion to make.

The Hays CISD inquiry into the matter finds that the Hays High School students are being truthful and have no reason to lie. The district stands by its students and continues to be proud of the Hays High School volleyball team for being brave and calling out hate and racism."

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