Mom calls for accountability after monkey sounds made at Black, Hispanic volleyball players

"It was clearly audible that it was monkey sounds," Adams told ABC News.

September 8, 2022, 6:38 PM

Lakeesha Adams anticipated an intense volleyball match between her daughter's junior varsity team, the Paetow High Panthers, and their rivals, the Jordan High Warriors -- but she didn't think it would resort to alleged racist taunts.

"It was clearly audible that it was monkey sounds," Adams told ABC News, also providing videos from the Friday game where she says monkey noises are clearly audible.

Patricia E. Paetow High School's junior varsity volleyball team in Texas is made up of predominantly Black and Hispanic girls, while the majority of Jordan High School's team is white, Adams said.

Adams alleged that once the teams switched sides on the court is when the environment started to shift. "By then, they start yelling at our girls, names and just saying stuff. So I'm like, hey, they're not supposed to be talking to our girls. That's against, you know, the school rules, you're not supposed to, you know, intimidate the players."

Women volleyball players are pictured in an undated stock image.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images/EyeEm

"They decided once our girls start serving to make monkey sounds," Adams claimed.

The game went on without anybody addressing the situation, Adams said. As soon as the game ended, she said she immediately headed home and emailed the Jordan High School athletic director.

When asked for comment, the Katy Independent School District referred ABC News to the letter it sent to parents addressing the situation. Both high schools are part of the Katy ISD.

The district said it launched an investigation into the incident, which it said "involved inappropriate behaviors exhibited by individuals in attendance at the game."

"An investigation has identified some students engaged in behaviors that are not aligned with the District's and the UIL's [University Interscholastic League's] expectations for sportsmanship conduct during an athletic event," the letter read. "Any student's behavior deemed in violation of the Discipline Management Plan, and Student Code of Conduct will face disciplinary consequences. Again, the safety of all Katy ISD students is our District's utmost priority."

"Students, staff, and community play an important role in keeping our school safe by reporting potential safety issues," the district added. "We would like to thank those who came forward to report the concern to school and District personnel. Thank you for your patience and understanding as the incident was investigated."

Adams said the letter didn't directly state what she alleges took place at the game.

"They don't really state what happened, they just say the incident and that they're not allowing that, and that they [some students] broke some rules but it's never specified," she told ABC News.

To bring awareness to the issue and not have this type of behavior moving forward, Adams said she wants to propose a plan of action that includes "to provide more education and awareness regarding the matters that occurred."

Furthermore, Adams said she's seeking a statement from the district that it vows to discourage "racially insensitive gestures, conflicts or actions targeting any race, religion or ethnicity."

She said she would also "request confirmation of appropriate corrective action that was taken by all parties involved. I want everyone that was involved, they can show us and let us know, hey, we're handling it. We're not just, you know, giving you guys lip service. We specifically mean that we do not tolerate this type of activity on any of our campuses."

Adams said her daughter told her she felt "totally humiliated and unprotected." As a parent, Adams said she wanted to protect her daughter and her teammates and stop the game.

"I want to see the referees or somebody do something. I want to see security," she said. "Your administration goes over there and stops them. I know that you can't physically control what may come out of someone's mouth, but you can correct it and you can stop it if you can't escort them out. I wanted to do all of that. But unfortunately, it's not my domain. It's not my school."

Adams said her daughter is upset and still wants to play, and needs to feel safe, as well as her teammates. Adams said when they are traveling to visit new schools, Katy ISD has to make sure those rules are implemented for the safety of all athletes.

Paetow won their volleyball match against the Jordan High Warriors on Friday.

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