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Middle school basketball coach suspended after allegedly telling team to not ‘act black’

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Photo of the North Side Gymnasium courtesy of The Elkhart Truth

4 Fast Facts

  • On January 15, Vicki Rogers allegedly told the North Side Middle School girl’s basketball to not “act black” before a game.
  • On January 20, Vicki Rogers was suspended from coaching the team, but she was allowed to continue teaching.
  • Vicki Rogers took a two-hour sensitivity training course.
  • She may resume her coaching duties as early as next week.

ELKHART, Ind. (February 16, 2016) – A middle school girls’ basketball coach has been suspended after allegedly telling the team not to “act black.”

According to The Elkhart Truth, Vicki Rogers, a teacher and coach at North Side Middle School, told her team to not “act black” and referred to the players on the other team as “ghetto” before North Side Middle School’s game on January 15. The comments were confirmed in official records from the school and by Principal Sara Jackowiak in a meeting that was videotaped by a parent.

The mother of one of the other players spoke under the condition of anonymity to The Elkhart Truth. “There are at least 50 other words she could have used to describe an unruly girl. Not one of those words happens to be ‘black,’ and that’s because I don’t think in those terms. For this coach to use that word, it really tells me how she feels about race,” said the mother.

Another mother also told The Elkhart Truth anonymously, “I don’t want my daughter to feel like the color of her skin is something she needs to hide so she doesn’t come across as ‘ghetto.’ That whole idea that the coach put in my daughter’s head is something I can never take back out. She has never identified as ignorant or not well-behaved because she is black.”

Rogers has been suspended from her coaching duties since January 22 when the school started an internal investigation. Rogers has been allowed to continue her duties as a seventh grade math teacher during the suspension.

Doug Thorne, executive director of personnel and support services for Elkhart Community Schools, says all coaches in the district are expected to follow a code of conduct, and Rogers comments were a violation of the following guidelines that are part of the code of ethics:

  • “The coaches shall consistently uphold the honor and dignity of the profession. In all personal contact, the coaches must set an example of high ethical and moral conduct.”
  • “The coaches shall direct their athletic programs in harmony with the total school educational program.”
  • “Athletes shall be treated with dignity. Coaches shall not use profanity, touch athletes in a negative manner, or make demeaning criticisms to athletes.”

Thorne also told The Elkhart Truth that Rogers was cooperative during the investigation and she took a two-hour sensitivity training course arranged through the Human Relations Commission. Thorne is unsure when Rogers will return to her coaching position, but parents hear it could be next week.

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