Updated: Jul 30
By William Spivey
Virginia High School Parent Wants to, “Make Oakton Cheer Great Again!”
The Fairfax School District has made it to my list of places I wouldn’t want my grandchildren to go to school. My list previously included the whole state of Florida, but no school district outside the state was included. The cheer coach of Oakton High School received an anonymous email requesting that the cheerleading coach not be Black. The letter was sent on behalf of parents and students who “would not feel comfortable with another colored individual.” Here is the entire letter; the misspellings are the author’s, not mine.
“Hello Coach Jillian, and welcome to Oakton.
We are happy to have you. I understand that you are an alumni. I think this is great based on the history of our school and community. I am speaking on behalf of many of the parents and students on this sensitive topic, but I feel that it’s important to make this clear upfront. Many of us would not feel comfortable with another colored individual coaching cheerleading at Oakton. While this may be seen as racist or having a prejudice against certain races of people, the last two years have shown that this is just not something that has worked out. Our school and history of coaches have been predominantly white. Many of the girls were shocked to see another coach last season with such dark and strong features. I enjoyed the time I spent at a few games with Coach Faith. She was very nice and spoke professionally at all times, but culturally, she and the coach before her, I was told, were not a good fit for Oakton, and they both were of an African American decent. This has been discussed with many alumni cheerleaders. Our fear is that the history of Oakton cheerleading will be tarnished and remembered with conversations of ‘peoole’ who destroyed something that so many people worked hard for. Our cheerleaders have always had a positive experience and great memories.
It’s fallen on deaf ears from Administration for years and we knew it would as Oakton is continuing to try to diversify the demographics of the school.
Since you are an alumni, I believe you have an understanding of what it takes to keep the Oakton Cheerleading history alive and a positive experience for the future. This will hopefully be by keeping things the way they were before.I know the prior coaches feel the same way but would never publicly speak on this. Rachelle would be the best person to speak to about this.
Thank you for returning and hopefully you can make Oakton Cheer great again!
The city of Oakton is 16 miles west of Washington, DC, one of the Blackest major cities in America at 45.8% Black. Oakton, a stone’s throw away, is 5.8% Black. The median family income in Oakton was $188,310 in 2010. Not Ginni Thomas’s money but enough to have a choice as to where they live. People don’t move to Oakton to be near Black people but to avoid them.
Cheerleading is taken seriously in Oakton; consider it “Bring it On” without Gabrielle Union and The Clovers from East Compton. The cheer and dance teams have previously made it to “Nationals,” though there has been some slippage in recent years. The squad isn’t all-white, but you wouldn’t call them diverse either.
The school has attempted to find out who sent the letter. The police were only recently notified of the letter sent months ago. They stated that while bias is indicated, no law has been broken. A third party is attempting to discover the source of the letter.
The fantastic part is that the author assumed the recipient would understand because she was an alumnus. When she closed her letter with “Make Oakton Cheer great again!” You know that she was encouraged by the current political environment. The writer recognized her request to exclude Black coaches might “seem as racist.” I hope she’s uncovered and people let her know just how racist she is.
Oakton High School principal Jamie Lane sent out a letter to the community.
Good Evening Oakton Community,
At the end of March, an anonymous email was sent to our new cheer coach. This email contained racist and hate-filled language and ideologies. The coach reported the email to me and our Director of Student Activities. Our technology staff tried to identify the sender but were unsuccessful. I then collaborated with the FCPS Chief Equity Officer, the Region 1 Assistant Superintendent, and other FCPS central office staff to consider an appropriate response.
I recently met with cheer team parents and student athletes to reiterate that Oakton High School stands united against all forms of hate, racism, and discrimination. The cheer team parents, and student athletes stand 100% with this sentiment. The letter below was sent to all members of the Oakton cheer team. I am sharing this with our full community because I want to reassure each and every student, family member and staff, that Oakton remains a safe and welcoming place for all.
Jamie S Lane, Principal
No action was taken between March and May until the matter became public. The last Black coach, Faith Dabrio, left because she “didn’t feel supported by the administration.” She received a threat from a student on social media, and no action was taken. Imagine that.