Scottsdale Schools completes racial discrimination investigation at Arcadia

Scottsdale Unified School District recently announced the conclusion of its investigation into alleged racial discrimination in the Arcadia High School basketball program, saying it did not find “sufficient evidence.” (file photo)

Scottsdale Unified School District completed its investigation into alleged racial discrimination from Arcadia High School basketball coaches, saying it did not find “sufficient evidence” backing the claims.

The district released an emailed statement Wednesday, July 10 with its conclusion and history of the complaints and investigation.

The investigation stemmed from complaints of racial discrimination and the district said it received those complaints Feb. 20. The investigation got wide-spread attention after local published news reports in early June.

When the allegations and investigation became public, Arcadia Principal Todd Stevens, via a June 10 community letter, said the investigation wasn’t complete and information provided served as a “checkpoint in the unfinished investigation.”

The district said, via its July 10 statement, two Arcadia coaches were accused of racial discrimination and retaliation. Arcadia Head Coach Stephen Danford denied the allegations, according to Mr. Stevens’s June 10 letter.

This led the district to open an investigation into the matter under the direction of Superintendent Dr. John Kriekard, Mr. Stevens and General Counsel Michelle Marshall. The district also says Assistant Superintendent Dr. Milissa Sackos also assisted in the internal investigation.

District officals claim the investigation included interviews from 25 witnesses, several of which were interviewed numerous times. SUSD also said it reviewed 15 categories of documents, including 16 unsolicited statements from parents, students and community members.

These unsolicited statements, the district said, came after published news reports on the investigation.

The district said it further tried “to ensure the integrity of the investigation” through outside counsel for the district — Susan Segal — who reviewed the findings. Ms. Segal concurred with SUSD’s findings.

With the findings in place, SUSD and Arcadia, at the recommendations of Ms. Marshall and Mr. Stevens, elected to have “meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion.”

This would include diversity and inclusion training for middle and high school athletic staffs in the district’s five learning communities. District officials say they have identified when those trainings will occur.

The district also plans to have these conversations with the students, saying it will discuss this topic with its Student Advisory Board.

SUSD also has plans to review its existing procedures for students to report concerns regarding discrimination, harassment or retaliation. The district plans to introduce an anti-discrimination notice to the student-athlete registration system called Register My Athlete.

SUSD Chief Marketing and Public Information Officer Amy Bolton said the July 10 email would be the district’s only comments on the investigation at this time.

“Arcadia High School and Scottsdale Unified School District take these, and all allegations of discrimination and retaliation seriously,” the district said in its July 10 release.

“We heard from many different stakeholders as a part of the investigation of this matter, and we appreciate the courage and cooperation of the students, staff, and parents.”

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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