METAMORA — The father of an African-American freshman and football player at Metamora Township High School said his son was recently targeted in a racist video by four classmates.
The father, Willie Williams of Germantown Hills, said the video was texted to his son. Williams said he was displeased with the initial response by district officials to the situation, but he was satisfied with the outcome of a three-hour meeting Sunday with school administrators, the School Board and the parents of the kids.
Williams said a news conference will be held at the school this week to announce the perpetrators’ punishment and a resulting educational program.
“We want to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Williams said.
The meeting was prompted by a Facebook post by Williams on Saturday detailing the incident and deriding the original punishment of the classmates (a one-game suspension and an in-school suspension decided on last Monday, he said) as “a slap on the wrist.”
It was not clear Sunday, however, whether all the classmates are football players.
Williams said that once the Facebook post appeared, a school official contacted him and requested the Sunday meeting.
“I hope we can move forward,” Williams said. “The most important thing for me is to have sensitivity courses going and have a dialogue. I don’t want Metamora to be painted as a racist town. I’ve never had any issues or problems here. I want healing and conversation and education to take place.”
Phone calls made by the Journal Star to MTHS superintendent Sean O’Laughlin, school board president Amy DeFreitas and athletics director Jared Hart were not returned Sunday.
Metamora varsity football coach Pat Ryan acknowledged there was an issue with the freshmen boys that prompted the meeting.
“Something happened that wasn’t good,” Ryan said. “Our administration is dealing directly with everybody involved. They’re working out the details of the punishment and trying to come up with a resolution.”
Williams said his son has dealt with the situation well.
“I’ve had conversations with him about the vile meaning of those words (used in the video),” he said. “I raised him not to look at color, but the character of people. He’s handled it with compassion and forgiveness. He told the guys he’s forgiven ‘em and is ready to move on with his life.”
The video found its way to Facebook through students, Williams said.
“Before I even saw the video, it was already shared by more than 200 kids on Facebook,” he said. “I would never post that or do that to those kids.”
Dave Reynolds can be reached at 686-3210 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at davereynolds2.