SAN FRANCISCO - School administrators and parents are wrestling with how to respond to news that some male high school athletes created a statistics-based fantasy league that awarded points when girls the boys "drafted" were rumoured to have engaged in sexual activity.
Parents at Piedmont High School were notified of the league's existence in a letter and email Friday.
Varsity athletes used the online competition, modeled after fantasy leagues common in major league sports, as a bonding activity for the last five or six years, Principal Rich Kitchens said in the letter.
"Male students earn points for documented engagement in sexual activities with female students," he wrote.
Most of the female students who were drafted into the league weren't aware of the competition, he added.
Officials at the San Francisco Bay area suburban school learned about the game during an assembly on date rape earlier this month. Administrators interviewed students, parents and staff members, but weren't able to identify any participants in the competition, which students referred to as a "Fantasy Slut League," Kitchens said.
Neither Kitchens nor Piedmont Unified School District Superintendent Constance Hubbard responded to calls seeking details about how the league worked and whether administrators plan to continue trying to pinpoint who was involved.
"The revelation that students expressed concern that the fallout could result in discipline and affect their college applications suggests an understanding by students that there is something wrong" with the league, Kitchens said in his email to parents.
Kitchen also told parents that the teacher who organized the date rape assembly would collect personal stories from students with an eye toward developing another school-wide meeting on the "personal integrity" issues the league's disclosure raised.
The high school also plans to hold classroom discussions and pre-season meetings with student athletes to "address issues of sportsmanship, conduct, and integrity."
"While off-campus activities are not subject to school discipline, because it involves our students, it involves us," the principal said. "At this point, because we do not have specifics about participants or victims, our focus is on education and understanding moving forward, not discipline for past activities."
Piedmont is an affluent area of Oakland prized for its public schools and high levels of parent involvement. Dana Copeland, president of the high school's parent club, said she was surprised to learn of the league's existence, but appreciated the principal's effort to keep parents informed.
"It's not something on your radar, but I think there are a lot of things about our teenagers that are not on our radar," she said. "You as a parent want to have an opportunity to talk to them and be involved in their lives."
Several Piedmont High parents and faculty members contacted by The Associated Press on Tuesday declined to discuss the league. A lively debate about it and the school's response it emerged, however, in comments on Piedmont Patch, an online news site.
Brian O'Connor, director of public education campaigns and programs at Futures Without Violence, a domestic violence prevention program, thinks that while the school should be commended for wanting to use the revelation as part of a broader student education initiative, administrators will lose credibility if they give up trying to find out who was behind the league.
"It's less about what the punishment should be and more about the message it is sending to the kids who weren't involved that this kind of behaviour can go unrecognized more specifically," O'Connor said. "They know, all the kids know, who is behind it."