District statement after investigation finalized

District statement after investigation finalized
Posted on 12/09/2022

We appreciate our community’s patience as we took the necessary steps and time to conduct thorough investigations into the alleged racist language used by students at a football game in November.

The investigations determined that one student likely used a racial slur in a bathroom, and another likely used offensive language in the stands. I want to be clear: We do not tolerate discrimination, hate, or racism in our schools. Respectful and equitable treatment toward others has been and will continue to be paramount in our work with students and staff and is foundational to our promise and potential as a school district.

Below is a summary of the two separate incidents, one investigated by District staff and one by an outside investigator.

Incident One: Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying Allegation

Shortly after a football game on November 4, 2022, against Lakes High School, the school district and the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) received a nearly identical complaint which resulted in a discriminatory harassment allegation. The allegation stated that a group of Stanwood High School students used hate speech at Lakes High School students in the girls' restroom at the stadium. These allegations have been fully investigated as required by both school district and WIAA policies. Our school district staff investigated. An outside investigator assisted with the interviews of some students involved in the allegation.

  • Incident One Findings: Our investigation involved interviewing eight students, staff, and parents from the Clover Park and Stanwood-Camano school districts. It was determined that hateful words were likely used in the bathroom before the November 4 football game. While the investigation did not identify a specific person, the evidence suggests the incident occurred. As a result, we will refocus our ongoing efforts and actions intended to teach students that such behaviors are unacceptable and never tolerated. Should more information become available, all discipline measures applied will align with District policy.

Incident Two: Hate Speech and Taunting Directed at Lakes Football Players

Shortly after receiving the complaint described above, the Stanwood-Camano School District became aware of a social media post alleging that Stanwood High School students engaged in hate speech directed at the Lakes High School football team. A Lakes High School community member called the District to share the social media post with District administrators. The Tacoma News Tribune then reported these allegations. While the school district did not receive a formal complaint, we began an investigation into these claims. The District retained an outside investigator.

  • Incident Two Findings: The outside investigation, conducted by attorney Noel Treat, involved reviewing statements and interviewing over 50 individuals across two school districts, including others present on and off the field. The findings suggest that there was not sufficient evidence to find the use of the “N-word” by players during the game.

The investigation did find that it was more likely than not that a student used offensive language in the student stands. The student has been identified to the school principal for appropriate follow-up. All discipline measures will align with District policy.

Should any new information be made available, we will continue working with all parties involved. The Stanwood-Camano School District apologizes to the Lakes High School students, staff, parents, and families impacted by these incidents.

Nonetheless, hateful words and actions do not reflect the values of the school district, Stanwood High School, the athletic programs, and the Stanwood-Camano community. Events like this cause pain and harm students, staff, and communities.

Hate must be stamped out before it can grow roots. No matter how small, acts or words of hate cannot become normalized or regular. The pain felt by hate’s victims is too real and too strong. It must be met head-on with love and acceptance. We are committed to engaging in courageous conversations about equity because we know that our students, families, and staff deserve to learn and live in a community where intolerance, racism, and inequity are not part of our environment.

We will continue to use our Educational Equity Policy to guide us as we strive toward an environment where all students are seen, known, nurtured, accepted, and valued. Moving forward, our commitments include the following:

The Stanwood-Camano School Boardwill continue to review the District’s Educational Equity Policy and reflect on the District’s ongoing equity work through the following actions:

  • Affirmation of board policies to address racist, biased, discriminatory, threatening language and actions every time it is heard and seen

  • Amplify voices of frequently marginalized individuals to ensure access to a safe, supportive learning and work environment

  • Become practiced in the act of disrupting discriminatory language and behaviors

  • Participate in Cultural Competence, and Racial Bias training

The Stanwood-Camano School District will engage in the following actions:

  • Participate in Cultural Competence, and Racial Bias training with all staff

  • Continue monthly equity training with all school administrators, including a study of “Speak up at School” developed by Teaching Tolerance

  • Partner with our District Equity Team in developing a three-part Equity Symposium for all staff

  • In January of 2023, the District will announce modifications to the structure and duties of our school administrators for the 2023-2024 school year. These modifications ensure we are intentionally focused on our commitment to instructional priorities, school culture, equity, continuous school improvement, our District Promise, and our District Strategic Plan

The Stanwood-Camano Staff and Students will remain committed to ongoing equity training and providing appropriate inclusive instruction to all. Stanwood High School students will:

  • Host and participate in listening sessions, and other equity-focused events as supported by PUSH Inspiration

  • Participate in equity training in small groups to affirm the District’s equity policy and expectations along with Wesco’s and WIAA’s expected and prohibited behavior at athletic events and activities

The Stanwood-Camano District Equity Team, composed of community members and staff, has already engaged in the following:

  • Co-developing and being available during equity training for all Stanwood High School students

  • Guide the school district’s efforts in becoming an anti-racist organization

  • Ensure we have the tools, resources, and common expectations for students and staff to be tolerant of one another in all situations and circumstances

The Equity Team will continue to take the lead on how we provide learning opportunities for our youth and supports for adults. The equity team will inform the development of age-appropriate learning activities on responding to everyday prejudice, bias, and stereotypes.

In the new year, I will establish a Student-Superintendent Leadership Team that will include secondary students’ voices, experiences, and feedback on how our District can best support all students.

We remain committed to seeking out inequitable policies and procedures contributing to systemic bias. That work will improve our environment and amplify the voices of frequently marginalized individuals to ensure access to a safe, supportive learning and work environment.

If you would like to contact the district about this report, email [email protected].



Dr. Deborah Rumbaugh



Dec. 9, 2022