Damonte HS Homecoming:
Dragging Black Mannequin by Rope Was Incompetence – Not Racism

Somewhere at Reno’s Damonte High School is a staff member  who approved a student Homecoming float featuring a black mannequin being dragged around the football field by a rope, as DHS students took turns stomping it.

Somewhere at Damonte High is an administrator who approved that staff member’s  decision – a decision that any competent supervisor would have vetoed immediately.

Meanwhile, acting Washoe County School District superintendent Kristen McNeill apologized for the incident by saying, “This is not who we (WCSD) are…it doesn’t represent our District.”   Unfortunately, the facts say it does.

Recent media reports and results from a teacher poll by QOL-Reno.org, confirm that insensitive behavior – by ALL races – is just ONE of WCSD’s many problems.   Others include:  poor staff supervision, abusive student behavior toward other students and staff, and a lack of ethical behavior and moral values by numerous school leaders.  Could these conditions possibly explain our schools’ perennial ranking as worst in the nation?

Adult supervision plays the ultimate role in determining how students act. The Damonte Homecoming incident didn’t occur because of some deep-rooted racism unique  to DHS’ White students. We don’t even know that the only students involved were White. The mannequin incident was simply one of the MANY stupid/thoughtless/dangerous activities that kids of ALL races will engage in, when they are not properly taught, supervised, and disciplined by the school staff entrusted with that responsibility.

Acting superintendent McNeill’s ass-backwards response to this incident guarantees that future snafus are inevitable. 

First, McNeill went to the wrong school.  As reported in the media, McNeill went to McQueen High School following the incident and spoke with their students: presumably to apologize about offending their racial sensitivity. The problem with that logic? The Damonte incident was not about racism; it was about incompetent supervision. 

McNeill should have gone to Damonte High School, reviewed video footage, identified the students who ran onto the track and stomped the mannequin, and called a meeting with them and their parents. She should have suspended all the students involved, chastised the parents, and banned the students from  attending any extra-curricular events for the rest of the year.

Second,  McNeill spoke to the wrong group. She didn’t need to “launch a comprehensive investigation” at a waste of hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of WCSD dollars.  McNeill didn’t have to go any farther than to call in: 1)the teacher(s) who supervised Homecoming; 2) the administrator they answered to; and 3) the Damonte principal, and tell them respectively: #1, “You’re done supervising extracurricular activities;” and #’s 2 and 3, “You’re done as administrators if a similar incident happens again on your watch.”

If McNeill had dealt with the incident in this manner, justice would have been served. Unjustified fears of lurking racism could have been avoided. Damonte and WCSD could have moved ahead with a stronger commitment to responsible supervision – not just at special events, but in the day-to-day operation of the school.    

Instead … students, who know the incident was not an intentional racist statement, are being brainwashed to think otherwise by foolish adults. 

Instead … the several WCSD staff responsible for inadequately supervising their students will get off with a slap on the wrist. The lack of pro-active supervision at our schools will thus continue, which is the root cause of practically every serious school incident in the news, including the recent bullying death at a Moreno Valley middle school.

In light of this ongoing and dangerous inability of the WCSD administration and School Board to keep our schools orderly and therefore safe, it’s hard to comprehend why EVERY parent of the district’s 64,000 students is not dis-enrolling their children and placing them into the many excellent education options that exist.

September 28, 2019