COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — A day after both principals shared a conversation about the events that transpired after the Hoover-Jefferson football game the Council Bluff Community School District said it doesn’t believe that acts of aggressiveness lie solely on Jefferson students.

The district’s Chief Communications Officer Diane Ostrowski sent the following statement to WHO 13 News Wednesday afternoon.

It is unfortunate the statements being made by Hoover high school representatives have unfairly exaggerated the (roughly 2-minute) exchange between our students and the Hoover players on the field with unsubstantiated claims of throwing items. More disturbingly, claims of racist behavior have dominated the headlines with no direct evidence. Racism in any form is not tolerated in our school district.

Video from the game provides evidence that the reports of one-sided aggressiveness are inaccurate. A few of the Hoover players went out of their way to engage with the TJ students. They can be seen walking away from the direction of the locker room to engage in aggressive behavior, such as shoving TJ students. The reports of large crowds near the player’s bus after the game are also not supported by the security video footage in the area.

None of the specific concerns about these claims were brought to our attention before the Hoover coach posted on social media or was interviewed by the news. We were not given the opportunity to investigate or confirm their account of events. We would have certainly collaborated with them to complete an investigation.

We regret that our Thomas Jefferson student section did not wait to rush the field before the Hoover football team had exited to the locker room on Friday. We understand, however, that the students were naturally excited for the Homecoming game win and wanted to celebrate with our players.

We do not condone demeaning or aggressive language, and have addressed the inappropriate behavior of three students that evening. The actions of a small number of students do not reflect the student body, the school culture, or the respect for diversity that is prevalent at Thomas Jefferson High School. I can speak on behalf of the school district and the school that these claims will not define our students and school community.

As a school district, we will review with student the protocols for fan interaction at future school athletic events.

Council Bluffs Community School District

Des Moines Hoover Huskies head football coach Theo Evans said Friday’s road game defeat to Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson High School quickly turned dangerous and divisive for his student-athletes during the handshake line.

Evans said after the game at Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson, some of the fans attempted to start fights and taunted Hoover players with racial slurs.

The PA announcer tried to get the crowd off the field after Jefferson won the game against Hoover, but it didn’t work. He can be overheard yelling at the students and saying “Have some class,” and “students leave the field now.”

Evans also said there was a group of about 60 students waiting around the Hoover bus that was very aggressive and trying to get reactions from his players.

Hoover’s principal Qynne Kelly wrote to Jefferson’s principal Michael Naughten to let him know she had asked the Iowa High School Athletics Association to look into the matter

On Tuesday, Kelly and Naughten spoke directly about the incident. A spokesperson for the Council Bluffs Community School District said the conversation was positive.

A statement from the district contained a slightly different narrative to the incident than Evans described, but it also included an apology.

Our Thomas Jefferson student section was thrilled to celebrate the homecoming win of the football team and rushed the field before the Hoover football team had exited to the locker room.

We have addressed the unsportsmanlike behavior of three students who were involved in an exchange with the Hoover football players.  Our Thomas Jefferson High School administration has reached out to Hoover High School administration to apologize for the post-game exchange

Council Bluffs Community School District