Texas School District Scores Crisis-Response Touchdown
A school district in Texas gave us an early holiday gift: an example of expert crisis response and communications. The unfortunate incident arose from a student-athlete who — shall we say? — fumbled when it came to sportsperson-like behavior.
During a football game the night of Thursday, Dec. 3, an Edinburg High School defensive end, Emmanuel Duron, charged onto the field and knocked down a referee who had just announced he was being ejected from the game. Duron had shoved an opposing player to the ground and tried to tackle the opposing quarterback after the whistle, according to The Monitor of McAllen, Texas.
After the attack on the ref, police escorted Duron from the stadium; he was charged with Class A assault, according to ESPN. (The Texas Association of Sports Officials decried the “vicious and deliberate assault.”) The game continued and the Edinburg Bobcats won 35-21, which meant it advanced to the playoffs.
Not so fast. The next morning, the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District — Edinburg is in the Rio Grande Valley — announced it was removing the team from the playoffs. It apologized to the referee and his family and also “to the athletes, staff and our school community.”
“We will take the appropriate disciplinary action once we understand the facts and circumstances underlining this incident,” it said.
The short statement was astute crisis communications. The district acted swiftly. It apologized. It took action in yanking the team from the competition. And it said it would act further once it better understood the facts.
Later that day, the district updated its statement to note that it came to its decision after consulting with its lawyers and the University Interscholastic League, which, despite its name, administers rules for primary and secondary school athletics.
The district admitted the UIL “would have removed the football team from the playoffs if the district did not withdraw the team. Under Texas law and district policy, the interim superintendent was authorized to move forward with the decision.”
We will take the appropriate disciplinary action once we understand the facts and circumstances underlining this incident.
— the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District
So, okay, the district did the right thing even though it really had no choice. But the statement amendation was smart in that it probably staved off public criticism of its action.
The district included the UIL’s own statement on the matter. “We applaud the Edinburg CISD administration for addressing this situation swiftly and taking appropriate action in removing themselves from the playoffs and for dealing with the student involved in the incident,” it said.
We too applaud.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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