PEYTON — Falcon High School announced on Tuesday the suspension of their football program until further notice, following reports of "serious misconduct."
The school is conducting the investigation with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. Those with the Sheriff's Office said they are investigating sexual misconduct allegations, and have not identified a victim or victims as of Tuesday evening.
The Sheriff's Office said the case was created in the last day and a half, but could not say exactly when the alleged incident occurred.
Breaking: The entire Falcon high school football team has been suspended until further notice.— Jake Gadon (@JakeGadon_TV) September 21, 2021
Per a release from the Falcon principal Dr. Darryl E. Bonds, the suspension is due to continuing an investigation into reports of serious misconduct associated with the team@KOAA pic.twitter.com/adgmgHoxVv
In the email announcing the decision, the school said they were suspending all activities related to the football program to "ensure the safety" of their student-athletes as the investigation continues.
The school said they are reviewing testimony and evidence, and are investigating all "serious claims." The principal described the investigation as complex.
On Tuesday evening, several football players and their parents gathered at the high school in response to the suspension. One of them was Daymon McDonald, a senior on the team. "It's a home away from home. And that's why I loved it, just because they're not my blood brothers, doesn't mean they're not my brothers. I love them as much as if they were my brothers," said McDonald, speaking about why he loves playing football with his teammates.
Following a year wrought with COVID-19 challenges, now the team does not know if they will play together again this season. "What if this does determine if I get to go into college or not?" asked McDonald.
McDonald said he was shocked by the announcement. According to McDonald and many other players, their coaches did not know the suspension was coming until the email. "I was angry. I was sad. And honestly, I was just embarrassed, you know? Hearing that, and it's like, that's not who we are. It's embarrassing," said McDonald.
McDonald believes the entire team should not be punished, and said the allegations are not an accurate representation of their high school football community. "If something's going on, then obviously the people that have done it, need to have consequences for it... That's not us as a school, or us as individual people. And I think that we should get a chance to show that isn't who we are as a school," said McDonald.
A parent at the high school said the district should have held a meeting where this suspension could have been discussed, rather than sending out an email.
The Sheriff's Office said the school resource officer assigned to Falcon High School is currently conducting the investigation. The school resource officer is a deputy sheriff with the Sheriff's Office.
If a victim is identified, it could switch hands from the school resource officer and go to the investigations department at the Sheriff's Office.
Due to student privacy, Falcon High School said they are not releasing further details at this time.
Those with the Sheriff's Office did not explain the sexual misconduct allegations in detail, because they do not want a victim to feel like they cannot share their story. They encourage anyone with information about the alleged incident to tell the school resource officer or administrators, and said there are ways to make an anonymous report.
Read the entire email sent to parents here:
Dear Falcon High School Families,
FHS administrators, in collaboration with district leadership and our law enforcement partners at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, are continuing an investigation into reports of serious misconduct associated with the FHS football program. To ensure the safety of our student-athletes as the investigation continues, we are suspending all activities related to the FHS football program until further notice.
The safety of students, families, and staff is non-negotiable. We are working diligently to analyze multiple reports and review testimony and other evidence, which adds to the complexity of the investigation. We remain committed to investigating all serious claims until we reach an appropriate, supported conclusion.
Due to personnel and student privacy obligations, we will not disclose specific allegations or findings except with individuals who have a need to know for safety or accountability reasons.
We thank our law enforcement partners, and we will remain proactive to ensure safe environments await every District 49 student and athlete. Please continue to monitor our regular channels of communication for updates when they are available. We thank you for your trust and understanding.
Dr. Darryl E. Bonds
Principal, Falcon High School
This is a developing story.