Two former NFL players said their children faced racism at Southlake Carroll schools.
Two-time Super Bowl champion Ray Crockett has lived in Southlake since 1990 and said he saw racial issues before his kids were part of the school district. So he was not surprised when a video surfaced last week showing two Southlake Carroll students in a car as the n-word is repeatedly shouted.
It was the second time this school year that a video has circulated showing students saying the slur.
“Kids are getting besides themselves,” Crockett said. ”They have had a free reign for so long. They think they can make a video and say the n-word and get away with it.”
Crockett played cornerback for 14 years with the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. His sons Ray Jr. and Darryl had problems at Carroll, he said, and his daughter transferred to Keller Central because she couldn’t take it anymore.
Former Cowboys defensive backs coach and 13-year NFL player Brett Maxie, who spent the past three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had similar experiences.
“It’s the same stories you have been hearing,” Maxie said.
He had two sons who transferred out of Carroll.
Maxie said it wasn’t the kids.
“It was parents and the coaches,” he said.
Crockett also addressed the tradition of football players dyeing their hair blond during the playoffs.
“My wife got sent an email with the title, ‘We love our blonds,’” Crockett said. “Some of these kids, like mine, are not naturally blond. What kind of tradition is that? Why would you want a black to dye their hair blond for the playoffs?
“This is the same school that told our kids they couldn’t wear wristbands and stuff because they didn’t want a sideshow. But you can dye your hair blond? Towel and wrist bands are a sideshow but blond hair is totally natural. That’s our tradition.”
Carroll schools spokeswoman Julie Thannum said that traditions are for the students and she wouldn’t speak for the football staff or athletic director about whether they continue a particular tradition or not. She said it was up to the students on whether to continue the tradition and that the coaches have met with the student-athletes to discuss things like this.
Thannum said it was “disheartening” to hear the stories from students and parents.
“We want every student at Carroll ISD to feel good about being a Carroll Dragon,” Thannum said. “We want this to be a safe place for them physically and emotionally.”
The district’s strategic plan addresses the social and emotional well-being of students — not only minorities but all groups that might be feeling isolated because of their experiences or because of how they’ve been treated by other students. Part of the plan includes a leadership team made up of superintendent David Faltys, administrators and coaches.
“We can’t change any past experiences but we can certainly learn from them, listen and move forward and enact some positive change,” Thannum said. “I truly believe in this district. We are seeing a lot of those things happen.”
Faltys and boys basketball coach Eric McDade, who the district is calling its “Culture Coach,” are visiting schools and have spoken to fifth-graders through seniors the past six months.
“We’ve specifically addressed the racial slur videos,” she said. “How did it make you feel? What kind of reaction did you have? Have you ever experienced being treated differently for your race, your religion, your sexual orientation, your gender? Anything that you can share with us that we can learn.”
She said the district heard from a number of families during a November school board meeting after the first video appeared in October.
“A lot of our minority parents came and spoke about their kids’ experiences,” she said. “We acknowledged that experience and that hurt. But, more than anything, we pledged to them that you have a leadership team that is committed to taking care of the whole child.”
But for some families the community’s reactions to racism have come too late.