UPDATE: Investigation Into Racial Slurs Against Jeremiah Chapman Concludes With Questions Left Unanswered

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 1:24 AM CDT
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CHARLES CITY, Iowa (KWQC) - The investigation into Charles CIty High school baseball player Jeremiah Chapman has concluded nearly a month after he heard racist comments during a baseball game against Waverly-Shell Rock. The findings into the investigation are being describe as “a slap in the face” by Keisha Cunnings, Jeremiah’s mother.

According to the Iowa High School Athletics Association, they let schools conduct their own investigations with such matters. Waverly-Shell Rock conducted their own investigation and on Wednesday morning July 22nd, Keisha Cunnings received a call from the Waverly-Shell Rock school district with their findings.

The School confirmed that Jeremiah was called Colin Kaepernick and he was told to “go back to the fields.” However, they could not confirm that the comment was racially motivated. As for the other two comments Jeremiah mentioned, the school said they could NOT confirm that fans chanted “Trump 2020″ and they could NOT confirm that fans told him “you should have been George Floyd.”

“They could not tell me what they were going to do moving forward. They couldn’t tell me any consequences..and that was it.” Cunnings said. She said she was left without any information on knowing that something was going to be done.

The Waverly-Shell Rock School district released a statement on their Facebook page saying in part.. “Because all individuals involved are students, federal and state law prohibit the District from releasing specific findings and actions relating to this matter, but our District is taking appropriate measures in response to this incident.”

In response to the post, Charles City sent out a statement, saying that the information released lacked “the clarity we need and desire..“We are eager to see a clear action plan on the part of the involved school district to accept responsibility and ensure students can be kept safe from bigoted and inappropriate behaviors,” the statement said.

Charles City tells TV6 that they were made aware of the findings in the investigation over the phone and when they requested documentation of the investigation from Waverly-Shell Rock, they were denied that request. TV6 filed a FOIA request with the Waverly-Shell Rock school district to release a copy of the investigation but was also denied that request.

Jeremiah and his mom met with Waverly-Shell Rock investigators last week on Wednesday July 15th. They both said they did not feel like the district took the incident seriously.

“I felt like they were trying to make me feel like stupid.” Chapman said. “Some part they kept trying to make me mix up my story.. and they asked me what was the tone of it. I wanted to stop after that because it sounded like they didn’t believe me at all. Like they were taking the whole thing as a joke.”

In response to the investigation, the Charles City School district is evaluating whether it will remain in the Northeast Iowa Conference. They also requested a one year penalty free suspension of playing Waverly-Shell Rock in the 2020-2021 school year. However, if the district is to play each other in any postseason play. Charles City has requested the two schools play at a neutral site.

TV6 reached out to the ACLU about their knowledge of the investigation and their Iowa Executive Director, Mark Stringer released the statement below:

No Iowa athlete should have to endure racist taunts like these. The comment made to a Black student about “going back to the fields” is a clear reference advocating slavery and is absolutely intolerable. Singling out a student by calling him by the name of a Black activist like Colin Kaepernick, however admirable that activist is, is also intolerable behavior. Schools have a legal obligation under state and federal law to protect their students from racial discrimination in school, including in school sports. If schools fail to do so, they can be sued. We also urge the Iowa High School Athletic Association to continue with its stated plans to develop a policy that specifically addresses racism against student athletes. In Nebraska, after other similar incidents, school officials have been urged a coalition of advocacy organizations to:

    1. collect data specifically on racist incidents;
    2. ensure penalties are applied to teams that repeatedly participate in this conduct; and
    3. establish a public complaint process for people who witness concerning behavior at athletic events, such as parents or guardians.

When asked about the school leaving the conference, Cunnings said “we want to fix the issue, we want to make change. Although leaving the conference sounds great, I support it but I don’t think that will fix the issue in the grand scheme of things...So if we want change we need to attack the issue within itself and I don’t want to just run away from the issue, I want to solve the problem.”

We have reached out to the IHSAA for comment on the findings of the case but we have still yet to hear back. Last month the IHSAA executive director Tom Keating told TV6 that he would plan on meeting with the Waverly-Shell Rock school district after they completed their investigation.

A decision on whether or not the school will leave the conference is expected to be made in September.

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