Local parents, Har-Ber girls basketball coach release statement after civil rights complaint

Rogers vs. Har-Ber - 10_19_-8889597350855685312

UPDATE: A parent of a Har-Ber Lady Wildcats basketball player sent KNWA/FOX24 a parent and player response letter that was posted on the Facebook page “Backers of Lady Wildcats Coach”.

This letter is in response to allegations addressed concerning Kania Starks, the suspended player who has filed a 504 complaint with the Civic Rights Office.

Read the full statement below.

A Message from the Parents of the Players…#ONETEAM

As a collective voice, those who have signed below would like to take a moment and address three main concerns that have been raised in various public forums in connection with our daughters’ basketball coach, Kimberly Jenkins.

As a united group of parents and a voice for our players, we are disappointed in the use of multiple forms of media to cast our daughters, their coach and their school program incorrectly. We are determined to set the record straight and to show our unified support for Coach Kimberly Jenkins, her assistants and the women’s basketball program.

Concern 1: Addressing the receipt of a letter by all parents regarding the team status of an individual player. As a group of parents, we can attest that at no time was a letter shared, sent or delivered from Coach Jenkins regarding any player other than our own. Communication regarding discipline, team expectations, and other topics pertaining to team membership have only been delivered to an individual player’s parent(s), the individual player, and copied to school administration when applicable.

Concern 2: Addressing the expectation of all players to adhere to a natural hair color requirement for members of the basketball team. Explained to us by our daughters, Coach Jenkins had over multiple seasons and occasions reminded the players of the expectation of adhering to appearance guidelines as members of their basketball team. This type of uniformity requirement for players is not uncommon or unheard of for many sports teams, as they most often represent a larger collective such as a school, business or local community. Specifically stated to the entire team as well as to
3 different players individually, was the set expectation to stay true to typical natural hair colors (brown, black, auburn, blonde). At no time, stated, implied or written was this understood to include hair extensions, braids, specific styles, etc. but targeted at atypical coloring for hair (pink, purple, blue, green) that could draw attention towards an individual and away from the team. No references or inferences were implied or spoken by Coach Jenkins regarding requiring change in types of hair related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc..

Concern 3: Addressing the comment made to a player referring to caramel.
Explained to us by our daughters, Coach Jenkins and other coaches often will use sayings, quotes, or provide motivations to us (players) to try different techniques, or change up our stance about a specific skill. In this instance, the use of the word caramel was to encourage a player to add a “little extra” to their effort and technique to expand past the ordinary and expected. Consistently Coach Jenkins references food items such as sprinkles, whipped cream, cherries etc. for the entire time to connect a visual example to foster improvement and a different lens of looking at specific tasks.

We the undersigned parents fully support Coach Kimberly Jenkins. Her actions in coaching our daughters to improve their basketball and life skills are second to none. We back her, the program, and will strive to correct any statements that we believe to be inaccurate.

Bentonville parents

The parents that signed the letter are:

  • Lynn and Nemicio Andrew
  • Todd and Liz Bowden
  • Jamie Bowen
  • Ashley and Norman Cooper
  • Tommy and Tracy Deffebaugh
  • Brady and Ashely Doty
  • Kelly and Jody Koons
  • Dax and Nan Luningham
  • Brian and Anne Martfeld
  • Reed and Rhonda McCrackin
  • Matt and Rhonda Nelson
  • Alicia McDaniel
  • Christy Watson and John McCaslin
  • Carey Stubbs
  • Lisa and Grant Taylor
  • Shelly Williams

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The family of a Har-Ber High School basketball player filed a civil rights complaint against Springdale Public Schools.

Senior Kania Starks said her coach, Kimberly Jenkins, discriminated against her and suspended her from the team.

Jenkins released a statement Wednesday, January 27 in response to the events.

Jenkins said she has been falsely accused of racism and other unproven accusations and that she has hired a lawyer to protect her hard-earned reputation.

Read the full statement below.

Over the past week, my integrity, character and family have been under siege by the court of public opinion.  As a leader of young women, it is time to show them how to stand up for myself.  ONETEAM

My statement…

I have had the privilege of coaching basketball for 24 years.  As a coach, my goal is to create a culture of inclusiveness, acceptance, leadership, accountability and opportunity for ALL.  Regardless of race, sexual orientation, religious preference, political beliefs, abilities, disabilities, etc. I have always done so.  I love my players, they are part of my family, “my girls”, and my entire family treats them as such. As a daughter of a coach and highly accomplished player myself, my life’s calling has been the game of basketball, specifically in the state of Arkansas. My goal is to help my players become better young women and athletes. As well as develop a culture where your effort, attitude, body language, communication and being a good teammate is paramount for success, not only in basketball but as life skills.

I have recently been falsely accused of racism, as well as other unproven accusations, in a public forum by a disgruntled former player, her parents, and her attorney.  In my view, I have been slandered.  I have hired an attorney and intend to take the appropriate legal action to protect my hard earned reputation.

In regards to the current situation, my only regret is that a resolution and relationship could not be found throughout a 2 ½ year process and recent acts of good faith have not been returned. It is unfortunate that her, her parents, and her attorney have chosen the route of slinging mud in the court of public opinion rather than a court of law where witnesses provide testimony under oath that carries significant consequences if deemed to be false. 

I appreciate the support from family, friends, players, parents as well as my coaching peers.  Anyone that knows my heart, knows this is not right. ONETEAM

Kimberly Jenkins

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