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According to a Fairfax County news outlet, a Black high school cheer coach in Fairfax County Public Schools received a racist email expressing concerns about the race of the next coach at Oakton High School. The email contained hateful language and made disgusting comments about previous Black coaches.
Although parents with children in sports often have concerns about coaching styles, uniform preferences, and team dynamics, an anonymous author took things to a disturbing level by emailing Oakton High School cheer coach Jillian Domenech.
Racist Email by Annonymous Author
“Many of us would not feel comfortable with another colored individual coaching cheerleading at Oakton. While this may be seen as racist or having a prejudice against certain races of people, the last two years have shown that this is just not something that has worked out. Our school and history of coaches have been predominantly white. Many of the girls were shocked to see another coach last season with such dark and strong features.”Annonymous Author
The author expressed concern about the race of the next cheer coach, claiming to represent parents and students who would not feel comfortable with “another colored individual” coaching the team or another Black high school cheer coach.
Last week, Oakton High School Principal Jamie Lane sent a letter to the school community stating that the school system’s technology staff attempted to identify the sender of the email but was unsuccessful.
Fairfax County Police Say No Law Was Broken
While the Fairfax County police have classified the incident as a bias incident, a spokesman informed the public that there was no criminal activity, and no laws were broken. The spokesman added that the police were also unable to trace the origin of the email and that they were only made aware of the incident two weeks ago.
The largest school system in Virginia has stated that an independent third-party investigator will be tasked with “further investigating this matter.” This development coincides with an increase in hate and bias incidents in certain areas, including neighboring Montgomery County in Maryland. Although a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that Fairfax County Public Schools currently does not document hate and bias incidents, they are making efforts to begin tracking such incidents starting from the 2023-24 school year.
According to a spokesperson, Montgomery County Public Schools, which is a similarly sized school system, has been monitoring these types of incidents for years and has data going back to fiscal year 2018. Superintendent Monifa McKnight has reported that the county is now experiencing an average of one hate incident per day, which is triple the number of incidents reported in previous years and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Faith Dabrio, the former coach, was informed about the letter by a parent who discussed a message that the principal sent to the cheer community. Subsequently, the parent forwarded an anonymous email to Dabrio that referred to her by name. The email stated that while Dabrio “was very nice and spoke professionally at all times but culturally she and the coach before her I was told were not a good fit for Oakton and they both were of an African American decent.”
Her conversation with the parent was the initial instance she became aware of the email. Upon reading the complete email, Dabrio stated that she was in tears, stating, “My skin color has nothing to do with how I do my job.”
Last Friday, the athletic director of the school contacted her and left a voicemail, notifying her that there was an email circulating with her name mentioned in it. As per Dabrio, the athletic director concluded the voicemail by inquiring about her reaction to the situation.
Dabrio expressed her frustration with the athletic director’s voicemail, saying, “You want to know how I feel about the situation, when you’ve known about the situation for over a month, and you didn’t take responsibility for it. I had to find out from a third party, not the direct source of this incident.” She has not had any communication with anyone from the school since she listened to that voicemail.
Local NAACP Fairfax County Branch Defends Black Cheer Coach
The Fairfax County NAACP released a statement urging the school system to take action to ensure the cheer team’s safety. They pointed out that despite two months having passed, “FCPS has made no progress in identifying the author of the email.”
“Nearly two months have passed and FCPS is no closer to ascertaining the identity of the email’s author, and to date there has been no significant action taken to assure the safety of the athletes on the Cheer team. The ongoing communication between the Fairfax County NAACP’s Education Committee and FCPS staff has yielded ever more entrenched efforts to obfuscate and deflect blame, rather than to accept the reality of the situation and deal with it effectively. The more time that passes where children are subjected to a threat of unknown origin and unknown magnitude, the greater the danger to their physical and emotional well-being.”NAACP Fairfax County Branch
This occurrence follows recent legislative actions by Republican lawmakers who have proposed bills prohibiting books authored by Black individuals and the teaching of Black history in public schools.