Athletes allege racial threats
Calverton draws some heat as students are suspended; deputy temporarily assigned
The Calverton School is facing criticism from some in the community over its handling of alleged threats among some of its student athletes that led to the reported suspension of three students, one of whom ended up withdrawing from the private school.
The critics have accused the school of unfair treatment and failing to address some ra- cially offensive remarks allegedly made by a Calverton lacrosse player.
The school in Huntingtown has 259 students enrolled from preschool to 12th grade. According to Niche.com, a school rankings site that lists Calverton as the 45th best private high school in Maryland, the demographics of students at the school are almost 57 percent white, 21.5 percent African-American, with Asian, multiracial and Hispanic students making up the remainder.
Marcus Malone, the father of an African-American student who was suspended two weeks ago, told The Calvert Recorder he has pulled his 14-year-old son out of Calver- ton after being notified that his son was put on “indefinite suspension.”
Malone’s son, a ninth-grader, was a new student at Calverton and had joined the basketball team in the summer.
Jerome McArthur, the boys basketball team’s head coach, told the Recorder a lacrosse player used the “N-word” and made other derogatory remarks in some back-andforth messages on Snapchat, a social media platform heavily used by young people.
Malone said his son responded by using
some threatening words, but that it was a joke — made after provocation — that went too far.
“He made a bad choice,” Malone said by phone Dec. 19. “The administration said it caused a threat to the whole community” and put him on “indefinite suspension,” prompting Malone to withdraw his son from the school.
McArthur and Malone both agreed there should be consequences for making threatening remarks. But they said they find it
unfair and troubling when only one side is reprimanded.
“I’m fine with the suspension, if they felt you should be suspended,” McArthur said, noting three basketball players were suspended while nobody from the lacrosse team was reprimanded. “But you can’t have it when you are not doing nothing to anybody else.”
McArthur said the school administration was presented proof of the racial remarks allegedly made by the lacrosse student, but said they didn’t consider it a threat.
One of the messages, according to McArthur,
said “you won’t live to be 20 years old.”
“I’m an African-American. If someone is calling me an-----, I would take that as a threat,” McArthur said. “If someone is saying I ‘won’t live to be a certain age,’ I would take that as a threat.”
Malone of Waldorf said the incident could’ve been handled better and made into a learning experience for all the students.
“Taunting goes two ways,” Malone said. “This is not equal, fair treatment.”
When contacted Dec. 19, the school declined to discuss disciplinary matters, citing privacy considerations.
“Social media can be a challenging medium for
young people, and helping them to understand the impact of their words and the proper use of that medium, for us, is a teachable moment,” said Christopher Hayes, head of school, who declined to confirm or deny whether any students were suspended.
Hayes said by phone he was not aware of the particular racial epithet being used, and some recounting of what happened sounded to him “not fully accurate” and “significantly inflated in the retelling.”
“Particularly in the 21st century, issues of race are extremely important. It is a priority for us as a school to help our students to consistently treat
others with respect both with language and actions,” Hayes said. “Part of the learning process is when students make a poor choice, we help them make a better one, and that’s not restricted to race.”
Hayes also declined to discuss the rumor of an alleged student hit list.
“If we become aware of a threat of that nature, we would take it very seriously and investigate it because our goal is to create a safe learning environment,” he said.
When contacted by the Recorder, Bryan Frates, the school’s boys lacrosse team head coach, declined to comment.
McArthur and Malone both said they didn’t think there was a hit list. Malone said it was something that came up when some boys were peppered with questions of whether there’s a list and who’s on that list.
“There’s no list. At some point, they got [irritated] and said: ‘Here you go. You want something? Boom,’” Malone said. “They shouldn’t have done that. But, by God, these are kids.”
Capt. David Payne, spokesperson for the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, said Dec. 19 a parent called the police about two weeks earlier and reported some “social media harassment.” A school resource officer from the sheriff’s office responded, and the school has taken administrative actions.
“It’s my understanding that they had some meeting after the social media harassment” report, Payne said. “Out of that meeting, they called us and said they feel everybody would feel more comfortable if we provide some security.”
On Dec. 11, an off-duty police deputy was hired by the school to be present at Calverton until Dec. 21, when the school started Christmas break, according to Payne.