Dalton Maldonado, the star point guard of the Betsy Layne High School basketball team in Kentucky, earned national attention when he publicly announced that he was gay following virulent persecution of he and his teammates at a Christmas tournament due to his sexuality. Now, the teen has been dealt one final high school disappointment on his way to college, though the school district he represented insists the issue was a simple oversight.
A school official told USA TODAY High School Sports that the school district “holistically supports Dalton Maldonado just as we do all our students,” and the omission was unintended. The district also vowed severe repercussions should it learn information to the contrary.
As reported by Out Sports, Maldonado was omitted from the two-page spread celebrating Betsy Layne’s basketball team in the Floyd County School District’s annual yearbook. The tribute included both a team photo and individual call-outs for every player who was a member of the team. The only player not profiled (in either way) is Maldonado, a fact that was pointed out to Maldonado by a person within the school that also detailed an alleged attempt to “cover up” Maldonado’s claims that he was harassed after the public announcement of his sexuality.
Here is how Maldonado described learning of his omission from the district’s annual yearbook on his personal Facebook page:
Then I had a person [affiliated] with the school tell me what they had learned about the school attempting to cover up the whole story. I recently saw my senior yearbook, I flipped right to the sports basketball page only to find my senior basketball picture missing…which devastated me.
While Maldonado was rightfully upset, Floyd County Schools Superintendent Dr. Henry Webb, who only learned of Maldonado’s omission Wednesday morning, told USA TODAY High School Sports that the information his office has been able to determine indicates the omission was “sheer human error.”
“First off, the Floyd County School System holistically supports Dalton Maldonado just as we do all our students,” Webb said. “He is a great athlete and a great person. We are one of the only school districts in the country who put out a yearbook-style annual that covers every school in the system. That’s where this came up, and Dalton was featured in 15 photos throughout the book. We counted. He’s featured in the most spirited section and the school pride section and in multiple cases he’s pictured playing basketball, which makes sense because he was a great player for us. He was a very popular student, and we support him.
“After I learned of his omission this morning, I launched a full investigation. At this point, what I’ve been able to glean is that he was left out by sheer human error. There were other students left out of other activities as well, which happens in a district-wide publication like this. It’s unfortunate. If the investigation determines that the student was taken out of the section for some other reason, whoever is responsible will face swift and serious consequences.”
Those certainly sound like responsible words from Webb, and the right direction for the school district. While it might be too late to put Maldonado back among the seniors on the school’s basketball page, at least he’ll be able to know that he wasn’t left out on purpose … or that if he was, the person responsible will have to deal with serious repercussions.