Canyons settles case of racial threats, abuse against former Alta High student

Published: Friday, Jan. 25 2013 10:20 p.m. MST

One teammate allegedly dangled a noose fashioned out of athletic tape in front of Armstrong's face, saying, "I'm going to rope you boy." Another pointed out to Armstrong that "30 years ago, you would be hanging from one of these trees."

Armstrong's complaint details repeated attempts to bring attention to the matter, including discussions with the then-Alta football coach, Les Hamilton, who allegedly belittled Armstrong, telling him, "forget the past" and "to suck it up and be a man."

Though Hamilton has publicly denied the claims, Armstrong believes the incidents led to him being demoted from starting on the varsity team to sitting on the bench on the junior varsity team, and never getting time to play, despite his abilities, the complaint states.

The settlement, drawn up by the district's insurer, the Utah Division of Risk Management, was paid to Armstrong and his parents in December. The three also agreed to "acquit and forever discharge" the district and members of its administration from any wrongdoing.

The district, however, must implement a revised non-discrimination policy, created with input from Armstrong and his parents, and keep the family apprised of its efforts to do so. The administration has appointed a chief civil rights officer and included students in training facilitated by experts with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program.

Haney said educators and support personnel are trained on the policies each year.

Posters containing information on how to report discrimination have also been printed and distributed and are to be on display in each building throughout the district, and students must agree to abide by the district's anti-discrimination policy upon registration.

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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