Roxbury Prep's Response to the Georgetown Report
In late September 2021, an independent investigation was launched to investigate claims of racist harassment of Roxbury Prep students and staff during a football game against Georgetown High School. The findings of this report have been released and affirm, without question, that our football players were honest in their description of being on the receiving end of racially abusive language. A link to the full report can be found here along with our response below.
Dear Roxbury Prep Community,
After a nine-month independent investigation jointly commissioned by Roxbury Prep and the Georgetown School District, Giselle J. Joffre, a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, released her final report on the Roxbury Prep-Georgetown football game on September 17, 2021.
Throughout this process, we have strived to uphold our values of transparency and the pursuit of truth. To that end, we are writing this letter to share the main findings from this investigation and provide our organizational response.
The Origins of the Independent Investigation
On September 17, 2021, our Roxbury Prep High School boys football team played Georgetown High School in Georgetown, Massachusetts. Throughout the game, our players and coaches reported being subject to racial taunts from Georgetown High School football players and spectators. During the game, Georgetown High coaches and officials denied that anyone on their side used such language. An altercation broke out on the field involving students from both teams that led to the game being suspended.
In late September 2021, Roxbury Prep and the Georgetown Public Schools agreed to jointly retain Attorney Giselle J. Joffre, of the firm Foley Hoag LLP, to conduct a thorough and independent investigation of the incident. A link to the full report can be found here.
Finding 1: Roxbury Prep players were subject to racist slurs.
This independent report concludes that players and spectators from Georgetown High School football team used, on four separate occasions, racial slurs and derogatory language against Roxbury Prep players.
- “Georgetown High students used racial slurs against Roxbury Prep during the game. Specifically, Foley Hoag confirmed four incidents of the use of racial slurs against Black Roxbury Prep players or coaches at the game. These racial slurs, together with other events before, during, and after the game, contributed to a racially hostile environment.”
This finding affirms wholly and unequivocally that our football players were honest in their description of being on the receiving end of racially abusive language.
The report explicitly supports our long-held feeling that on September 17, 2021, Georgetown coaches and fans failed to provide a safe and welcoming environment for our students. Consider the following quotes from the report:
- “Ultimately, Georgetown High failed to provide a safe and welcoming space for the Black players and coaches of the visiting team. Roxbury Prep felt vulnerable and unsupported because of the racial slurs themselves and the lack of meaningful response from officials or Georgetown administrators…In totality, these events created a racially hostile environment that has indelibly harmed the Roxbury Prep players and coaches.”
- “Unfortunately, the game officials, Georgetown High coaches, Georgetown High administrators, and at least one police officer did very little to respond to the Roxbury Prep complaints during the game.”
Finding 2: Roxbury Prep coaching staff used inappropriate force during the altercation.
The report also had findings regarding the fight that broke out after the racial epithets were used. The report included the following:
- “During the third quarter fight, it was inappropriate for Roxbury Prep coaches to physically remove Georgetown High players from the altercation, even in an effort to break up the fight or to identify those who were using the N-word.”
We agree with the report and we acknowledge that the behavior of one of our coaches in breaking up the altercation failed to meet our high standard for professional conduct. We regret that this incident occurred and apologize to Georgetown High School students, staff, and community.
Our Roxbury Prep football coaches will participate in a training course around teaching and modeling behavior offered by the National Federation of State High School Associations. We will also confer with the MIAA Sportsmanship Committee Liaison to get their recommendations on appropriate next steps. As a community, we believe in taking responsibility for our actions, admitting our mistakes, and seeking to learn and do better moving forward.
Roxbury Prep’s mission is grounded in creating a racially diverse and inclusive environment for all students and staff, and our schools have fought for racial justice since our founding in 1999.
The actions by the Georgetown players and crowd were deeply harmful to our students and the entire Roxbury Prep community. As the report stated:
- “There is also no question that the Roxbury Prep players and coaches experienced trauma consistent with their complaints. That trauma was evident (1) on the field in real time (2) immediately after the game when at least two coaches were in tears; (3) after returning home, when many Roxbury Prep players complained to their parents about being called the N-word; and (4) during Foley Hoag interviews, where multiple Roxbury Prep interviewees expressed clear emotion—including anger, sadness and resentment, sometimes leading to openly crying—regarding their experiences during the game. The pain that the players and coaches still carry is palpable.”
We hope that the Georgetown School District will both apologize, take action to heal the harm, and take preventive steps to ensure that these highly inappropriate actions never happen again.
Our educators possess a strong commitment to repairing harm and resolving conflict in our community through restorative justice. We hope to engage with the Georgetown community to repair the harm from this incident, elicit apologies, and rebuild trust between our communities.
The events of September 17th and their aftermath have been traumatic for the entire Roxbury Prep community. We appreciate the work of those who shine the light on racial injustice and hope that the Georgetown community takes the opportunity for deep reflection as well as change and growth in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We have always known that the road to equity and justice is long and arduous. As our mission and promise remind us, the work of social justice, combatting racism towards our community, and coming together in love and hope is what makes us Roxbury Prep. We will continue to live out and embrace these values in all we do. One school. One mission.
Yours in Service,
Shradha M. Patel Dwayne Robinson
Founder Athletic Director
Roxbury Prep High School Roxbury Prep