MARBLE FALLS, Texas — Marble Falls ISD confirmed it is investigating after reports of a racist incident occurring at a girls basketball tournament on Friday in Marble Falls.
"Marble Falls School District has an unyielding commitment to love every child and inspire them to achieve their fullest potential, and this applies to children outside of our school district as well. We will continue to work with administration at East Central High to fully investigate and hold students accountable for their actions," the district said in a statement on Monday. "Marble Falls ISD does not condone any form of discrimination, and we would like students at East Central to know they have our full support."
East Central High School athletic director Suzette Arriola said students sitting in the Marble Falls student section shouted monkey noises as an East Central High School senior was shooting free throws. The incident was captured on camera and shared on Twitter by Asia Prudhomme, the student who was shooting the free throws, herself.
"This is sad, heartbreaking and uncalled for. Can’t even play basketball without ignorance and racism in the stands. This really broke my heart, my coaches and teammates … please share this out and help us punish those involved," she said.
In an interview, Prudhomme said she is still in shock.
"After I saw the video, it really hit me in the soft spot," said Prudhomme. "I was very shocked."
Prudhomme said she did not hear the noises during the intense game but saw the video after the fact.
"I wasn't really paying attention because I was always taught to ignore the students, focus on the free throw," said Prudhomme.
Arriola said some parents heard the harassment and told Marble Falls administration while it was happening.
"They did not ask them to leave," said Arriola. "They never escorted anyone out of there."
Arriola said that it was not an isolated incident, as these noises continued throughout the first half of the game. Arriola said after reviewing the video, they found at least three instances when it happened.
The team said the best part of all of this is the outpouring of support. As of Monday, Prudhomme's post of the incident has more than 34,000 views and hundreds of retweets.
"I would like people to know not to let people … don't let them bring you down," said Prudhomme.
They said hopefully Marble Falls ISD will follow UIL's guidelines for punishment and more parents will speak up when they see anyone in the wrong.
East Central Coach Vanessa Villareal also took to Twitter to express her frustration.
"This situation was hard," she wrote. "Speaking to my girls about this was hard. Our weekend was not ruined by this. Our kids grew & I wish I could show what our girls did on the bus once we discussed it. Our girls are amazing people who love each other so much! I love them for that!"
The East Central basketball team also shared a statement on Twitter, reading:
"On Friday afternoon our team went through a very difficult game at a tournament. Unfortunately one of our athletes had to go through a racial situation that was very hurtful and unacceptable. Our athletes, coaching staff & parents are not ok with what happened! We appreciate the athletic office and administration from both schools who are working to handle this situation. We are a strong family & we have each others back! None of these actions will change the memories we have made this weekend overall. Our team grew even more as a family on this trip! Thank you to everyone for their support for our #32 and our entire team!"
The East Central Lady Hornets lost to the Lady Mustangs of Marble Falls 58-50 after a "significant foul disparity." However, later Friday evening, the Mustangs basketball team tweeted that it would not be playing on Saturday due to "unforeseen circumstances."
The following letter was shared by Marble Falls ISD Principal Damon Adams on Nov. 20:
"Marble Falls High School administration is investigating allegations that one or more students made insensitive comments or noises during a recent basketball tournament. Marble Falls ISD has established high expectations for our students and specifically addresses discriminatory behavior in our Student Code of Conduct:
"Because all people have purpose, immeasurable value, and have been made bearing an indescribably special image, this SCC treats discrimination with particular emphasis.
"Students shall not use any discriminatory language or engage in communications that contain discriminatory messages, images, or conveyance. Discrimination is defined as any conduct directed at a person on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, disability, age, or any other basis prohibited by law that negatively affects the person to whom the discrimination is directed. Additionally, engagement in this behavior could affect other students, directly or indirectly. Engaging in discriminatory behaviors may be treated as serious misconduct (Student Code of Conduct, p. 6).
"School administrators are reviewing video footage and will interview students and patrons who attended the game to ensure a thorough investigation. Marble Falls High School takes these allegations seriously and will hold students accountable for any behaviors that violate our expectations.
"As campus principal, I regret that any player or guest in attendance at our tournament experienced anything from our student body that made them feel uncomfortable or devalued. I am saddened that the behaviors of a very small number of students could tarnish the impression that others have of the incredible group of kids who make up our student body.
"Federal laws prevent me from sharing specific information about individual students and disciplinary consequences. Still, I hope that by sharing this information about the emphasis that our district places on how we treat others, I can offer some assurance that we will take all steps necessary to hold students accountable and continue to foster a caring and inclusive culture at Marble Falls High School."
Prudhomme recently celebrated her 1,000th career point, according to the Lady Hornets.