Updated: Racial discrimination, WIAA violation claims filed against Meadowdale girls coach; parents say they’re unfounded

This story was updated Saturday, Dec. 3 to include responses from Meadowdale parents and volunteer coaches.

A racial discrimination complaint has been filed against the Meadowdale High School head girls basketball coach by a 10th grade player who said she is tired of systemic racism in the girls basketball program.

However, parents of other girls in the program have come forward to support the coach, stating the player’s allegations are unfounded.

On Nov. 18, the 10th grader – whose name has not been released – filed a formal complaint against girls basketball coach Kevin Thompson. The complaint was filed on the basis of racial discrimination against her and multiple other players on all three girls basketball teams – varsity, junior varsity and C team – as well as multiple WIAA rule violations.

The Edmonds School District has opened an investigation into these claims with third-party investigator Luke & Olsen, PSC, and expects to receive those findings by Dec. 16.

“We take these claims seriously and are working to quickly and thoroughly come to a resolution,” said Lisa Van Cise, who works in the school district’s communications department.

According to the written complaint, Thompson – who was hired as the head coach in May 2021 – “has instituted a series of actions which discriminate specifically against students of color within [the] program.”

The student athlete who filed the complaint listed instances where Thompson singled her out during practices, belittling her and forcing her to sit outside of the gym as the rest of the girls finished practicing. Thompson allegedly also benched the 10th grader for the last four games of the season last year without giving any explanation.

The student, who identifies as Hispanic, said she was told after the games that her position on the varsity team was being given to two students who identified as white.

“I was then informed that my role and minutes were being taken by a white…player and another white transfer student, and that I would only play varsity if we played ‘weak’ varsity teams,” she said. “When I began to explain my position to the coaches, Mr. Thompson began yelling at me and cursed at me: ‘I don’t give two shits about you.’”

Parent Caleb Powell, whose two daughters play on the Meadowdale High School varsity team, said the parents in the girls basketball program support Coach Thompson and that the student’s allegations have no merit. Three of the 10 girls listed as varsity players are multiracial and another multiracial player is a swing player who alternates between the junior varsity and varsity squads, he said. The student making the complaint was also scheduled to be a swing player after spending her time on junior varsity last year, Powell said.

Having freshman and sophomore players move between junior varsity and varsity squads is common and assists with player development, said Powell, who also co-directs the Meadowdale girls basketball feeder program. The feeder program includes fifth- through eighth-grade girls living in the Meadowdale High School boundaries, although sometimes there are not enough girls to fill teams, in which case out-of-bounds girls may play.

Powell and another parent, Leon Dotter – who coaches Meadowdale varsity players who compete during the off-season fall high school basketball league — said they believe the student’s allegations were fueled by her disappointment in not making the varsity team and instead being assigned as a swing player.

The student filing the complaint also alleged this is not the first time that students of color have been removed from the varsity team to make space for white student athletes to join the team.

“Mr. Thompson has made a point to discourage all athletes of color and promote and rise white athletes within our program since he began coaching last summer,” she said. “Some students have chosen to quit the program altogether and some are just frustrated and don’t know how to advocate for themselves. Since his hire, Mr. Thompson systemically has singled out students of color that have played several years within the Meadowdale program and he now keeps them on [junior varsity] or C Team and gives their playing spots and opportunity to underclass students in lower grades simply because they happen to be white students.”

Parent Leon Dotter, who is African American and has experience coaching the player who made the allegations, said her claims are untrue. “I know what discrimination is being a Black man in America. This is not the case. The player needs more development. This is not a race issue.”

Dotter, who has been volunteering with the Meadowdale program for nine years, said he believes Coach Thompson is an asset to the girls basketball team, calling him a “family oriented human being who communicates to parents and kids on a personal level.” That’s why, Dotter said, he supported the district’s decision to hire Thompson as head coach after Thompson served as an assistant with the program.

In addition to the racial discrimination claims, the student also stated in her complaint that Thompson continues to break multiple Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) rules. Thompson allegedly recruited a student from another school during the off season, which is a violation of WIAA policies.

The student athlete claimed Thompson additionally uses the off season to judge who will be on the team in the upcoming season – which is also a violation of rules.

“WIAA is clear that off-season activity cannot determine placement on teams and that coaches are not allowed to participate in off-season activity,” she said. “Mr. Thompson purposefully violates these rules by telling players that their participation in the off season, ‘shows their commitment to the team and determines their placement on the team.’ Mr. Thompson has held meetings with parent coaches to essentially coach via proxy in the off season. He also attends the fall season games to see who is playing and how they are doing.”

Dotter said that the allegations of recruiting a player from another school are untrue, noting Thompson didn’t even know who the new player in question was until September. As for the claim of being a “coach by proxy” through parent volunteers, both Powell and Dotter said that Thompson attended one off-season game to watch, but there was no communication between Thompson and the parent coaches, since WIAA rules prohibit it.

According to OSPI’s Equity Office, the school district must complete the investigation and issue a written response within 30 calendar days, unless an extension is requested.

–By Lauren Reichenbach


  1. This article is filled with lies and misinformation. I look forward to the Head Coach and Meadowdale Girls Basketball Program being cleared of these baseless allegations.

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