What’s wrong with you, HSE school board? No, really. What’s wrong with you?
You have on the Fishers boys swimming team, in your own words, a kid who was making the pool a “hostile environment.” As a result, in your own words, there was “fear exhibited by female swimmers.” And you’re saying the reason behind that fear, the “three allegations of sexual harassment” – in your own words, HSE school board – “were substantiated.”
That’s pretty much what you’re saying.
And you’re saying this:
He can swim this weekend in the state meet. He can represent Fishers on the biggest stage. And he can do that because … why?
Because the girls swimming season ended weeks ago. Which means there’s nobody left for the boy to harass.
That’s my reading of the official statement from the HSE board. Here, see it for yourself (emphasis mine), specifically where it says: “Noting that because the girls swim season had concluded and that joint competition and practice were no longer taking place, the swim environment had been altered sufficiently to allow the male swimmer, no-contact provision enforced, to resume participation on the boys swim team.”
You see that? The kid has a no-contact provision with the girls swimmers, and that remains in place. But he can compete again. Because the girls aren’t around anymore to have “fear exhibited.”
And then the school board pats itself on the back by noting: “This affirmation assures persistence of a safe environment for all students as they continue their education within the school corporation.”
It also assures persistence of a possible state title for Fishers. Goooooo Tigers!
Seriously, HSE board. And seriously, Fishers. What’s wrong with you? Have you lost your minds? What kind of message are you sending? Not to the boy in question. Forget him. Not to the world at large. Never mind us.
What message are you sending to the girls you’re pretty much saying he caused to have “fear,” those girls whose “three allegations of sexual harassment were substantiated”?
Sorry, girls. But he’s really good at swimming, so …
After being suspended earlier this season for this very reason, and after missing too many meets to qualify for the postseason, the kid wasn’t eligible to swim last week at the sectional meet at HSE. But Fishers High petitioned the IHSAA for relief, and the IHSAA allowed the kid to swim because, near as I can tell, that’s the IHSAA’s sole purpose for existing: to take a bad situation and screw it up worse.
At least this time the IHSAA has a concrete reason for being so lost: It has a board of directors composed of 19 athletics directors from around the state, with one AD elected president of the elite board.
Guess whose AD is the current president of the IHSAA’s board of directors? Yup: the guy from Fishers. His name is Jim Brown.
Oh, high school athletics in our state has an abject lack of leadership. But don’t get me started on the IHSAA. Not today. The abomination at Fishers is bad enough today.
And it was bad enough last week that about 25 parents stood outside in silent protest when this kid was allowed to swim at sectionals at HSE.
It’s too bad for the rest of the Fishers team – it really and truly is – that they’re all painted with a suspect brush. We’re not naming the kid in question because (one) he’s a high school student and (two) he hasn’t been charged with a crime. That’s fair to the kid (it really and truly is) … but it’s not fair to his teammates.
So be it. Fishers and HSE and the IHSAA created this situation – well, the kid did, with those “three allegations of sexual harassment (that) were substantiated.” But the adults in charge have done what adults often do, made this whole thing worse. So here’s what I hope fans do today and Saturday when Fishers is competing at the 2019 IHSAA state swimming meet at IUPUI:
Walk out of the building. Or stand and turn your back. Decline to watch. Refuse to do what the HSE district superintendent and school board and Fishers and the IHSAA have done. Refuse to pretend that this is OK.
This is not OK. This is appalling.
Thing is, and we all need to understand this: While the superintendent and school board represent everyone at Fishers, they don’t really and truly represent everyone at Fishers, if you know what I mean. The news that the HSE school board was backing the decision to let this kid swim at state broke Thursday night, and when I went to Twitter to express my disgust, I was texted almost immediately by two families in the school district. They’re mortified by this. Angry. Helpless.
I’m telling you their names because Google won’t forget. They are elected officials whose names should be included. This decision should trail them, like a bad smell.
Get mad, HSE and Fishers parents. Make calls. Write emails. Draw signs. Protest.
And next time an HSE board member is up for election, remember this column. Remember their names.
Vote them out.