FMHS cancels rest of baseball season following racism accusations

Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Fort Myers High School has canceled the remainder of its regular baseball season in the wake of a Title VI investigation into claims of racism in the program.

The canceled season comes after a racial slur in a text message led to the removal of two coaches from their positions, followed by a $500 fine.

The highs and lows of the 2023 FMHS baseball season changed like the seasons.

“Incidents that do not reflect the values of Fort Myers High School,” FMHS principal Robert Butz said.

Until the end of their season, Butz sent a voicemail to the entire school community on Thursday, following a week, and really, two months, of absolute turmoil.

FMHS also sent an email to the families of the school’s baseball team announcing the cancelation of the season.

FMHS Principal Dr. Robert Butz sent the following email to parents with students in the baseball program:

“Good afternoon,

After meeting with every varsity baseball family and evaluating our options for the rest of the season, I must inform you that I have made the decision to cancel the rest of our baseball regular season and district play. This was not an easy decision to make, but the current status of our team and coaching staff does not provide a viable path forward for the remainder of this season. This is an unfortunate situation and it is my desire that all of us will utilize the additional time to process what has happened this season. Our staff will also be working on ways to facilitate the healing of our players. Additional information will be provided within the next week.”

“That I think was overkill. Especially in that – kids on that team, black, white or whatever. Seniors on that team were looking for that little boost from playing ball… and possibly getting a scholarship,” Gwyn Gittens, former Lee County School Board member, said.

Gittens was watching and is a former school board member. Gittens served on the board amid previous investigations into allegations of the district violating students’ constitutional rights.

“Anytime there was something of this nature that came up, it was like I was E.F. Hutton. Everbody would, you know, look at me. Everybody would say, “Oh I know she’s got something to say…” NO! I am not the quintessential black person,” Gittens said. “There are millions more people that look like me. I don’t know how they think. I know how I think!”

And she thinks the last two months, the Title VI investigation into the baseball program could be something that goes on for longer than expected.

“That was one of the things that made my blood boil,” Gittens said. “Anytime they didn’t want to discuss something, they would all of a sudden start an investigation, and say ‘Oh we can’t talk… it’s under investigation!”

For the record, the school district has said they will talk to WINK News once the investigation is complete.

The school announced they had a counselor on campus on Friday to help students who might need some healing after the events of the last few months.

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