FORT MYERS, Fla. — The rest of the season is canceled for the Fort Myers High School Green Wave baseball team as a Title VI investigation is underway. This is part of the Civil Rights Act, which looks into whether or not there was discrimination based on race, color or national origin.
According to the Athletic Director at Fort Myers High School, the School District of Lee County is investigating the claims stemming from an incident on February 14, 2023.
A text message, obtained by Fox 4, showed a racial slur, allegedly sent by Assistant Head Coach Alex Carcioppolo. He was dismissed two days later from his probationary contract after an inappropriate text message sent to the team, the district's spokesperson said.
"To hear the terms racist and discrimination being thrown around is upsetting to say the least," a parent said at Tuesday's school board meeting.
The head coach is longer with the team because of the integrity of the investigation, the spokesperson said. He is still a teacher at the school.
On March 6, an e-mail sent explained the Title VI investigation, looking at the racial discrimination. It's legally required because the school receives federal money. It's an investigation FGCU law professor Pamella Seay says goes beyond the message.
"The next step however is to make sure there is nothing further going on. How deep does this go, how high up, and how entrenched is this?," she said.
A parent of a baseball player says it does go further than the message.
"Everything going on with our baseball team goes much deeper than that," said Dee Tucker, who spoke at the meeting.
On April 6, several players walked out and forfeit a game, the day after the head coach, Kyle Burchfied, was removed the from the team. Some parents believe players intentionally left others on the field.
"Any parent or team members that eludes to the fact that this was not based on race, I care to differ," Tucker said.
After that, there were no practices or games. On April 13, the school's principal cancled the rest of the season after talking to parents with the team, citing the current status of the team and staff is not able to provide a viable path forward.
Seays says this move shows consequences for all the behavior.
"If based on their preliminary investigation the school district determined this went beyond one person, then the cancellation might be the best response," she explained.
She adds it's also lessons the school can give.
"Counseling and training would go very far to respond to this," she said. "As a wake-up call, I think that's one of the best things to come out of this, is that it doesn't happen again."
Principal Robert Butz sent out the email on Thursday about the decision to cancel the rest of the season, later stating more information will be given next week.
After meeting with every varsity baseball family and evaluating our options for the rest of the season, I must inform you that I have made the decision to cancel the rest of our baseball regular season and district play,” Butz wrote. “This was not an easy decision to make, but the current status of our team and coaching staff does not provide a viable path forward for the remainder of the season.
Fort Myers High School had six games remaining with a game scheduled for Friday night against Gulf Coast.
The School District of Lee County says "The school has communicated with the team and all its families. Extra counselors are on campus today for anyone needing someone to talk to. The school will develop more ways for team healing."