Reporting Aristea Brady
MOUND, Minn. (WCCO) – Emotions ran high Monday night at Mound Westonka High School where parents, students and community members gathered to listen to the superintendent after six hockey players were suspended for participating in a ‘Harlem Shake’ video film during lunch time with school permission.
Those players missed their sectional game, and the team lost to a lower-seeded opponent.
Westonka School District Superintendent Kevin Borg apologized for the school’s actions.
“To our students, I apologize that under my watch this issue has caused so much pain,” Borg said.
It was an apology student and parents say they’ve been waiting for. And there was an overwhelming applause when Borg announced that activities director Dion Koltes was placed on administrative leave.
Borg was quick to clarify that Koltes does not assign suspensions, and that he couldn’t discuss the nature of the allegations against Koltes at that moment.
It was one standing ovation after another at the packed auditorium, where people actually stood outside of the entrance way to listen in. Parent Mike Kurdi recounts the moment he heard of the suspensions.
“I got the call at 3:07…from one of the most distraught children I’ve ever heard from,” Kurdi said.
Parents, students, some of the suspended players, and even community members voiced their anger with the district.
“There ought to be, like, zero tolerance for bone-headed, knee-jerk-reaction administrators,” said one man in attendance. “Put that in your policy pipe and light it up.”
Students and parents say it’s the activities director’s job to advocate for the students – and Koltes failed in that role.
“Where in this nation are you found guilty and then have to prove your innocence?” asked Kurdi.
The school board says they will conduct an outside investigation of the incident and review school policies.
The suspensions have been downgraded from two days to one, and the district asked police to void the disorderly conduct tickets that were issued after the incident.