Title VI Investigation at Fort Myers High after text message sent with racial slur

Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

A Fort Myers High School baseball coach was let go for using a racial slur in a text to the team. Then, in the first week of April, midway through a game against Estero High School most of the team walked off the field.

After the head coach was removed from his position for a Title VI investigation by the district.

But, nobody on the team thought about telling the only two black players on the team about the walk-off plan.

Next, on Thursday, the principal of Fort Myers High School announced he will be leaving the school after this year for another job at a college in Tennessee.

The Lee County School District confirmed to WINK News it’s conducting a Title VI investigation into the school. That means nobody will be discriminated against because of race, ethnicity, sex, age, or religion in a program that’s federally funded.

Public schools are federally funded and therefore, the school’s baseball team is also federally funded. Consequently, if a Title VI investigation into the baseball team is happening, it’s because there’s reason to believe that someone has been discriminated against because of one of the aforementioned factors.

An email given to WINK News by one of the players’ parents was sent from the athletic director of Fort Myers High School. The email said the Title VI investigation into the baseball program had begun, and the district itself is the one conducting it.

“They are doing what they need to do. They are investigating this and looking at what is the root problem? They know there’s an issue they need to see. How far did it go? And does it still exist? And that’s it’s not an easy thing to do,” Pam Seay, a Department of Justice professor at FGCU, said.

Assistant coach Alex Carcioppolo sent a racial slur in a group chat message to the team in February. He was removed from his position and then, nearly two months later, head coach Kyle Burchfield was removed.

Then the team walked off the field in their next game, protesting the status of the program. The FHSAA fined the school $500 forcing the school to forfeit the game.

“This is not the kind of behavior that you expect to find in your own high school. And to have a family have to go through this, this is just unforgivable,” Seay said.

With a little persistence and patience, the school district confirmed they are conducting a Title VI investigation. Two months into the investigation and a week of questions from WINK News later, the investigation was confirmed by the school district.

According to the board policy as they relate to the investigation, the investigation includes interviews with the person who complained, who they complained to, and who might have knowledge of the situation.

They also said that a determination will be rendered no more than 20 school days following the complaint. However, after adding up the days, Thursday is the 33 school day since the complaint.

“I would agree that there needs to be some kind of ramifications to the people that were involved. And then if it’s happening in the the sports program in one sports program, chances are it is happening elsewhere. Because it seems that there is an atmosphere of approval and atmosphere that shows this is okay behavior, when in fact it is not. It is egregious, it is atrocious,” Seay said.

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