Appeal allows brothers to play after suspension for Falls News pic

by Jeff Pederson of The Review staff


SHEBOYGAN FALLS STUDENTS flash three-point shot signs during Friday’s game at Plymouth in support of fellow students Jordan and Juwaun Jackson, who had been suspended for the EWC boys basketball game but were then reinstated when the suspension was overturned by the High School Extra Curricular Council. — Review photo by Abby Lynn Harvey SHEBOYGAN FALLS STUDENTS flash three-point shot signs during Friday’s game at Plymouth in support of fellow students Jordan and Juwaun Jackson, who had been suspended for the EWC boys basketball game but were then reinstated when the suspension was overturned by the High School Extra Curricular Council. — Review photo by Abby Lynn Harvey SHEBOYGAN FALLS — After four days of intensive debate, scrutiny and media coverage, the Sheboygan Falls High School Extra Curricular Council overturned a previous decision to suspend Jordan and Juwaun Jackson from Friday night’s basketball game against Plymouth Friday, Jan. 17.

The suspension was prompted by a photograph of Jordan and Juwaun, along with their brother Jamal, that appeared on page 4 of the sports section of the Jan. 1, 2014 edition of The Sheboygan Falls News to accompany an article titled “New Falcons take flight.”

The article, which focused on the brothers’ move to Sheboygan Falls this year, their participation in the high school basketball program and future ambitions, was written by Sheboygan Falls Sports Correspondent Steve Ottman, who also took the photo in question.

One week after the photo ran, Sheboygan Falls School District Administrator Jean Born was alerted by the district’s school liaison officer that a school liaison officer from another school district had raised questions about the hand gestures, inferring that they could be related to street gang activity.

The school district referred the case to the Sheboygan Falls Police Department, which after an investigation determined that the circular sign with three fingers extended was a signal related to “The Bloods” Los Angeles-based street gang.

Juwaun’s sign which resembled pointing to himself and the camera in a playful manner was not determined to be a gang sign and Jamal was not making any hand gestures that were investigated.

When questioned by school officials and a Sheboygan Falls Police Department officer, Jordan said the sign he made was made to signify a 3-point basket, which is commonly displayed by NBA and college basketball players.

Jordan said the first photo taken showed the boys simply looking at the camera, and the second photo was suggested by Ottman to be “fun.”

On Monday, Jan. 13, the school district leveled

Jordan and Juwaun with a one-game suspension for the boys basketball game against Plymouth on Friday,

Jan. 16.

Born stated that the suspensions were based on the confirmation the district received from the Sheboygan Falls Police Department that they signs were related to street gangs.

She also cited the schools “zero tolerance” policy, after the suspensions were briefly reviewed again on

Tuesday, Jan. 14, but not rescinded.

The decision sparked numerous local, regional and nationwide media reports and prompted American

Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin to condemn both the Sheboygan Falls School District and the Sheboygan Falls Police Department by issuing a statement intended to put pressure on the school district to reverse its decision on Thursday, Jan. 16.

The following day, Jordan and Juwaun’s parents, Lisa and Billy, filed an appeal with the district which was reviewed by a volunteer Extra Curricular Council comprised of district staff members.

The council overturned the suspension late Friday afternoon, allowing Juwaun to play in that evening’s junior varsity basketball game and Jordan to compete in the varsity contest at Plymouth.

For a detailed description of last week’s developments, see this week’s Sheboygan Falls News.


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