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Ironwood Ridge 'racially-based harassment' involves football team

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

We're learning more about allegations of racial harassment at Ironwood Ridge High School on the northwest side.

We first told you about them yesterday.

Now we're learning they involve some football players and the N-word.

We've also learned the NAACP has become involved at the invitation of relatives of Ironwood Ridge students.

That includes a meeting held at the school last Wednesday, October 23, between parents of African-American students and the principal.

The school and the Amphitheater School District acknowledge there are allegations of racially- based harassment at Ironwood Ridge, some of which have been verified.

The district says some students have been disciplined, and more students could be disciplined.

The investigation into the allegations, that are mostly centered around the football program, is still going on.

The district says, because of that, it will not comment on-camera.  

The district also says that in recent days some parents have withdrawn their students from the school.

An NAACP spokesman says relatives of an African-American student came to the organization with concerns about racial issues among students.

The spokesman says the parents had met with Ironwood Ridge administrators, but that they felt nothing was being done because the abuse by the students continued.

"They call them the N-word more than anything else. And you could take that to the extreme in terms of saying that. But kind of acting it out and, you know, you say it, that's bad behavior, but then when you make it a hostile situation, now we have something else to deal with," says Clarence Boykins of the NAACP, Tucson Branch.

We also spoke with NAACP Tucson Branch President Donna Liggins who was at the Ironwood Ridge meeting with parents and the principal last week.

"That's what I said I would do. I said I'm coming out to listen to everything, everybody. So their concerns were their children not being safe, not treated fairly in the school, but mostly it looked like it was safety," Liggins says.

Asked how he feels about actions the school and the district are now taking, Boykins says, "I'm okay, but not impressed."

"That's great. The question we would now ask is what did you know and when did you know it? And why do we have to go to this extreme to get to this particular point? What are the policies and the guarantees from the leadership that this is not going to be revisited?" Boykins asks.

He also asks why it took so long to react to the situation.

However, Boykins also says Ironwood Ridge is not alone.

He says his organization is aware of racial issues at other schools and districts in Tucson as well.

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