Breanna Reeves |
Valley View High School in Moreno Valley cheerleaders were met with an onslaught of support and encouragement from community members and supporters on Thursday at the school’s first football home game of the season.
Nearly two weeks have passed since Valley View cheerleaders were verbally attacked by cheerleaders and fans of Temecula Valley High School (TVHS) at a football game on August 20. Valley View cheerleaders were met with the racial slurs and verbal aggression when they were invited to sit with the opposing cheer team.
Two Valley View cheerleaders, Sabria Rose and Kharissa Darden, who were on the receiving end of the verbal racial attacks spoke out via Instagram, penning messages about their experiences at Temecula Valley.
“Why did my school have racial slurs used against them by people who do not know what the history/ meaning behind that word is?” Sabria Rose wrote. “Ask yourselves why did Temecula Valley High School students and fans make monkey noises towards two young Black women who just wanted to support your snack bar?”
Independent investigations are currently underway by the Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) and Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD).
A statement received from Laura Boss, Public Information Officer for TVUSD read:
“TVHS will investigate any incidents thoroughly and will be taking swift and appropriate action if deemed necessary. Our school district embraces diversity and strongly condemns hate speech and offensive, hateful language or racial intolerance of any kind on the sports fields, in school buildings or anywhere on or off school premises. We will hold anyone found to have used such language while representing any of our schools accountable for their words and actions.”
MVUSD Superintendent Dr. Martinrex Kedziora said he was proud of the Valley View cheerleaders and the coaching staff who made the decision to leave the football game after the incident.
On Monday, following the football game, Dr. Kedziora and Valley View High School held a meeting for the cheerleaders and their parents to discuss what took place and had cheerleaders write statements.
“I told them, like what Michelle Obama says: ‘When they go low, we go high,’” Dr. Kedziora advised. “And I said, ‘You demonstrated that with courage and conviction that evening because you didn’t say anything to them and you didn’t do anything to them. They did it to you. But I just want you to know how proud we are of you.’”
With the leadership of the cheer coach, Kenya Williams, the district is hiring a consultant to work with students and offer additional support moving forward. Williams is a counselor at Valley View and is the coach who made the decision to leave Temecula Valley after the incident.
“In all my years coaching, I have NEVER experienced such levels of disrespect and hate from an opposing school/team. Tonight, my girls were victims of racial attacks; verbally and physically (non-violent),” Williams said in a Facebook post. “I am angry and I am hurt! I would love to say that I am shocked, but I’m not. I was honestly fearful of being at Temecula Valley HS.”
Since the incident took place, some Temecula Valley students have shown support by holding a protest on August 23. Students have also raised money for the Valley View cheer team. While some Valley View cheerleaders have expressed gratitude toward Temecula Valley’s efforts, others are wary of the news attention these Temecula Valley efforts have garnered and shaped the narrative since the incident.
“And what’s kind of bothering me is that, that’s not our goal or our issue, that the cheerleaders need support. Our whole school on Monday reminded us of that we have our teachers, students, staff, superintendent, principal, advisors, all behind our back,” said 16-year-old Audrey Thomas who is a Valley View cheerleader.
Temecula Valley’s History with Racial Incidents
“And the fact that it looks like the media is switching the focus – that’s a little bit concerning for me because instead of what happened, it’s going to be like, ‘oh, they’re protesting.’ And that’s not the issue, it’s that change needs to happen,” said Thomas. “That school was racist towards our Valley View cheerleading team.”
This is not Temecula Valley’s first racial incident. In September 2019, a Temecula Valley student spray painted a Confederate flag on a parking spot on school grounds. This incident was followed by a student spray painting a racial slur targeted at Solona Husband, a Black TVHS student in November 2019. In August 2020, a video surfaced online which allegedly showed a TVHS student making racist remarks.
“I want people to know that the history of racism at this school is so ingrained that it’s still in effect today,” said Thomas. “I really hope consequences and change actually happen because that’s the only way people learn – is action and change.”
Audrey’s father, Elmer Thomas, was present during the meeting with parents and the cheerleaders that took place at Valley View. He was shocked to hear, firsthand from the cheer team, what had transpired at the football game.
“I listened to those girls, I saw them, I looked into their eyes, I believe them. And so I want to do what it takes to get the justice that they deserve,” said Thomas. “But the way that they’re standing up and demanding justice, that’s something that I want to make sure that we all encourage.
The school has filed a formal complaint (below) with the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) citing a series of incidents that took place at Temecula Valley during the football game.
The complaint includes descriptions of the language used against Valley View, the lack of acknowledgement from Temecula Valley personnel and reactions from social media.
“In summary, Valley View High School is asking for consequences for Temecula Valley’s High School and their negligent actions toward Valley View High School’s Varsity Cheerleaders, Varsity Football Team, JV Football team, and Valley View High School’s student spectators. We are not asking for a forfeit win,” the complaint stated.
“We are looking for a change, in the actions of Temecula Valley View High School Principal and Athletic Director, Temecula Valley Football Team, Cheer Team, Spectator crowd, and student body of Temecula Valley High School, with regards to racism, injustice, bias, unruliness, unsportsmanlike conduct, unjust treatment.”
The complaint ends by asking if CIF-Southern Section will stand with Valley View High School students and community to “make the change in sports that is needed at Temecula High School.”