BELLEVUE, Wash. -- The mood and comments were predictable and passionate. Supporters of Bellevue High School's football program filled a school board meeting Tuesday, blasting the limited release of information on a report on the team's operations and "racist" motivation of the inquiry.
After a series of Seattle Times reports, the Bellevue School District and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association began an investigation into the newspaper's stories, which included allegations of booster club members paying the tuition of student-athletes at a private school.
The school, according to reports, was nothing more than a diploma mill for many of the squad's players.
The WIAA report resulted in "facts regarding four of the five allegations", including "coaches directed athletes to attend the Academic Institute, boosters paid tuition of athletes at the Academic Instutute, false addresses for athletes were utilized to gain eligibility and coaches coordinated tuition payments for athletes".
In a statement released Tuesday, the WIAA said it would not "respond to speculations about the possible contents of the fact-finding."
However, the entire situation has infuriated supporters of the team. At a public comment period Tuesday, parents pointed out only parents of minority children were interviewed, suggesting a deep bias to the process.
"Look in the mirror, each and every one of you," said parent Marisa Spooner-LeDuff to the school board, "See what you're doing and resign. You're racist."
Spooner-LeDuff said she was interviewed by WIAA investigators because her son is on the Bellevue High football team.
"No, it' looks strange," she added afterwards, "We believe here in Washington there is no racism. But I know what closet racism looks like because I know what wide spread racism looks like."
District officials have said little on the situation. However, during a break in the board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Tim Mills briefly answered questions.
"Never from the school district perspective did this start out to be anything that was focused on race," he said, "We had public allegations reported by the Seattle Times. Anytime there are allegations that come forward about a school district, we have an obligation to look and investigate."
The full WIAA report is expected to be made public next week.