HUNTSVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Concerned community members and parents filled up the Huntsville school board meeting Monday, accusing leaders of mishandling a possible sexual assault situation that’s now a criminal investigation.
Last week, KNWA/Fox24 reported on the investigation related to a recurring situation involving the boys basketball team. Title IX documents revealed some accusations that some players put their genitals in teammates’ mouths while others held them down, calling it “baptizing.”
A protest outside the administration building moved into the conference room when the meeting started at 7 p.m.
#NEWS: The Huntsville School Board meeting adjourns quickly after protesters interrupt.— Andrew Epperson (@eppersports) July 13, 2021
Several members are sticking around now and having a public conversation with concerned parents. #NWANews https://t.co/elAZhyylMD pic.twitter.com/rbJ3jMLixW
After a few minutes, a protester interrupted the meeting, calling on board members to resign. Board members voted to adjourn, but school board president Danny Thomas remained for a back-and-forth conversation with concerned citizens, several of whom indicated they do not have children in the district.
Thomas said he could not comment on Title IX cases but reassured parents that people are being held accountable.
“We are not a court of law, that’s number one,” Thomas said to an audience member. “Number two, we as a school board, school district and superintendent have done every single thing we can in the channels we can work with.”
Several people spoke up, including a father who said his son was victimized. One man said the school’s handling of these cases negated any faith the community had in the board.
“If we’re going by what’s happened in the past, we have no confidence, zero confidence that it’s going to happen now,” said Jeremy Updegraff, a concerned community member who said he homeschooled his own kids. “Give us the confidence that you’re going to address this in an appropriate manner.”
The meeting lasted until shortly after 10 p.m.