Beaverton: Coach who said racial slur didnâ€™t violate school policy
The mother of a Beaverton School District student who accused a football coach of bullying and using a racial slur is filing an appeal after the school district's initial investigation concluded that Beaverton High School Coach Bob Boyer's actions did not violate school policy.
The investigation into the incident — in which Boyer reportedly scolded student athletes for broadcasting a song with "offensive" lyrics on school property — was conducted by Beaverton High School Principal Anne Erwin. Pamplin Media Group obtained a copy of the investigation report detailing its findings.
Among other conclusions, the report states that Boyer was not acting in his capacity as a school district employee during the interaction and did not direct slurs at anyone while quoting profane song lyrics.
While Boyer did not violate the district's bullying or harassment policies, Erwin stated, she feels it would be "appropriate" for the coach to formally apologize to students who were upset by the incident.
The parent who originally filed the complaint was disappointed in the results of the investigation, telling Pamplin Media Group that the findings downplayed the harm Boyer caused during his interaction with the students.
She filed her initial complaint last month after her daughter reported the interaction with Boyer during a July softball practice.
In a letter to Deputy Superintendent Ginny Hansmann, which was also obtained by Pamplin Media Group, she wrote that she was "utterly dismayed" by the report, which she said "invalidates the truth, erases the impact of the abuse, minimizes the violence and grants unearned positive treatment" of Boyer.
The complaint has now graduated to a "Level 2," school district officials said, and will now be investigated by Hansmann.
Last month, a member of a summer developmental softball team organized by Beaverton School District staff and coaches told Pamplin Media Group that Boyer berated her and another team member for the music they were playing during their batting practice on the evening of July 20.
The team is comprised of players from various high schools in the Beaverton School District, according to district officials. The team competes in the NAFA summer league and has permission to use the field.
The 15-year-old girl, who asked that her name not be used, said one of her teammates was playing music from her Apple Watch when a song with several expletives started playing.
Erwin's investigation found the music was broadcast over the field's speaker system, meaning it was audible throughout the facility and could be heard in the residential neighborhood around the school.
According to the report, the student said her teammate realized her playlist wasn't clean and skipped to the next song.
The girl said a Shakira song was playing when Boyer, whom she did not know or recognize as a school district employee, entered the dugout and asked them if there was an adult around.
"He said the music is too loud and it has — I don't remember — but there was a point where he said the p-word and the d-word … and then n-word," the girl, who identifies as a person of color, said in an interview conducted during the investigation. "He said it loudly. I told him he couldn't use the n-word because he's not Black. He made an excuse that 'it's in a song, so why can't I say it?' I was feeling uncomfortable and I asked him to leave and he told me I had an attitude."
The girl told Pamplin Media Group that one of her coaches, who is white, eventually noticed there was a conflict and approached them. There was an immediate shift in mood, she said.
"(My coach) came over and he's like, 'Oh, what's the problem?' and then right then and there you could see his attitude and his aggression went away," she said.
The coach, whom the school identified as Nick Grinnard, said in an interview with school administrators that Boyer introduced himself as a "pillar of the community" and that his demeanor was "really chill."
The girl told Pamplin Media Group that she ended up leaving the dugout angry and frustrated. She told her parents about the incident, and her mother drafted an email to the district and sent it the following weekend.
Boyer was inside his home — which is adjacent to Beaverton High School's softball field — when his wife told him to listen to the music playing from the field, according to the investigation. When he heard the lyrics he felt were "offensive," he went over to the stadium.
"I went over to the dugout and didn't see a coach," Boyer told school administrators. "I asked one of the girls, 'Where's the coach?' A student responded 'I don't know, I think she left.' I asked, 'Are you guys just over here playing by yourself?' I said, 'Well, we need to talk about the music that's being played.' They said, 'What's wrong with it? I said, 'The words.' They said, 'What words?'"
At that point, the report says, Boyer said he repeated some of the profane words he said he heard in the song, including the n-word.
"I said as a member of the community, of the school, I find this really offensive," Boyer added.
When the girl told Boyer that white people can't say the n-word, he told her he was making a statement of what was offensive, according to the investigation. He added that he didn't intend to use the word in an offensive way.
"She repeated that. I put my hand up and said, 'I don't need your attitude right now, we need to deal with this music,'" Boyer recounted, according to the report. "She kept repeating that, 'You can't say that word, you're white.' I repeated, 'The reason I'm here is this song can't be played, this can't be out there.'
"I didn't call anyone that name, I didn't use it in a negative fashion."
When Grinnard approached, Boyer said again that they needed to turn the music off, according to the investigation. Grinnard agreed, and they shut off the music.
While the investigation concluded that the girls' interaction with Boyer "may have been upsetting," he did not violate school policy.
"I find that at the time of the incident, Mr. Boyer was not acting as a district employee or in any employment capacity. He approached the complainant as a neighbor and community member," Erwin wrote in the investigation. "I further find that Mr. Boyer's comments during the interaction were not directed at a particular student, but rather the lyrics of the song. He expressed his concerns with strong emotions."
Erwin also noted that the practice was not a "district-sponsored athletic event," even though it was organized by Beaverton School District staff and coaches.
District spokesperson Shellie Bailey-Shah told Pamplin Media Group that the definition of what is considered a school district-sponsored event is "pretty nuanced."
"A school-sponsored event or activity is organized by, supervised by and funded by the district. Especially in athletics, we have all sorts of summer programs that involve BSD staff and facilities but are not run by the district," she said.
Erwin concluded that based on the totality of her investigation, Boyer did not bully or harass the students, as defined by the school district's own policy.
She suggested, however, that he should apologize.
"Though I do not find that Mr. Boyer's action violated district policy, I do find that the effect of this interaction was upsetting to the players in the dugout," Erwin wrote. "After discussing the impact of his behavior directly with Mr. Boyer, I believe an appropriate response to the incident would be a formal written apology to those students affected by the interaction, and Mr. Boyer is willing to issue such a statement."
The mother of the student who reported the incident said she hasn't received an apology from Boyer yet. She also said the investigation's findings "minimize" the impact Boyer's actions had on the players. She called the investigation structurally biased against "girls of color" in her letter to Hansmann, the deputy superintendent.
"Mr. Boyer, an angry white male, showed up and accosted young girls in their all-girl space of joy," she wrote. "He claims it happened differently, which is a form of gaslighting. His tactics displayed his inherent level of patriarchal authority and superiority of whiteness over the girls."
Bailey-Shah said the incident is now considered a "Level 2 complaint," which means Hansmann will review it before the investigation is considered closed. That review should be complete within the next two weeks.
Pamplin Media Group reached out to Boyer for an interview, but he deferred all questions to the Beaverton School District's communications team, adding that the report fully explains his side of the story.
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