School District Investigates After Black Mannequin Dragged by Rope at Football Game

Aschool district in Nevada has launched an investigation after a video and a photo showed a student at a high school homecoming football game dragging a black mannequin on the ground with a rope.

The video, obtained by KRNV, shows a Damonte Ranch High School student dressed as a cowboy pretending to ride the school’s mascot, a mustang, while using a rope to drag a black mannequin on the ground during a halftime parade on September 20. The incident occurred during a football game between Damonte Ranch High School and McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada.

Washoe County School District interim superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill told the Reno Gazette-Journal she received a complaint about the incident around 9:30 p.m. that night from McQueen High School and immediately ordered an investigation. The black mannequin was reportedly dressed up as McQueen’s mascot, a Lancer.

“This is not who we are,” McNeill told the publication. "It doesn’t represent Damonte or our district."

An incident report obtained by the news outlet states one of the student groups from McQueen High School built their float on a theme called Reno Rodeo. Class advisers approved a student dressed up as a cowboy or mustang to lasso a knight figure dressed in gray and blue, McQueen’s school colors.

A gray mannequin was not available for purchase on Amazon, so a black mannequin was purchased, according to the report obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal. However, the mannequin did not remain on the float and ended up being dragged by the student from Damonte Ranch.

McNeill told the publication the investigation is ongoing and the district is trying to determine how the display received approval from school administrators. The superintendent also stated that apology letters were sent to McQueen High School and the rest of the school board.

A statement on the Washoe County School District’s website noted that the “incident and the behavior of those responsible is utterly inconsistent with our collective commitment to equity, diversity, responsibility, and kindness for all of our students and staff members.” The district assured the community it would “take appropriate action to ensure it never happens again” and the district would “hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”

“We are steadfast in our pledge to provide a safe, welcoming, and respectful environment for all of our students, staff members, and parents in every one of our schools at all times. This includes all school and District-sponsored activities and events,” the statement read.

“We will not tolerate this kind of behavior in our schools, campuses, and offices, and will pursue every avenue available to us to ensure something like this never happens again in the Washoe County School District,” the statement continued.

A similar incident occurred at a New York middle school, where a social studies teacher is currently under investigation after asking students to “write something funny” about pictures of slavery for a class assignment.

Darlene McCurty wrote on Facebook on September 20 that her granddaughter, an eighth-grade student at John W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport, New York, was instructed by her teacher to write “funny” titles and captions for multiple black and white photos of enslaved people working in cotton fields.

Along with her post, McCurty shared two photos of the class assignment, which showed that students wrote titles like #BlackGirlMagic above a photo of Black women working in cotton fields. Under the photo, the student wrote the caption, “Black girls work hard play hard.” McCurty wrote that her granddaughter “was and still is very upset” about the assignment.

“My granddaughter who is in the eighth grade contacted me last night — She said her friend’s social studies teacher gave a class assignment to ‘write something funny’ about these pictures on slavery — and make it real funny because she didn’t want to be bored. My granddaughter’s friend refused to write anything ‘funny,’” McCurty wrote on Facebook.

Dr. Kishore Kuncham, Freeport’s Superintendent of Schools, wrote in a statement on the district’s website that the incident is under investigation.

“The emotional and social wellness of our students is always our highest priority and we take any insensitive comments made by staff very seriously. I have directed that an investigation of these claims be immediately conducted,” Kuncham wrote. “Since this matter involves a District employee and is a personnel matter, there will be no further comment until a thorough investigation and careful consideration of the facts of this matter are completed.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.