Midlothian High brothers, athletes transfer amid alleged racial tension

Marcus S. Marion | mmarion@waxahachietx.com
Former Panther siblings Jarreth (above) and Josh Sterns enrolled at Waxahachie High School Thursday after allegations that racially-charged comments forced them to withdraw from Midlothian High School on Wednesday.

WAXAHACHIE — After alleged slurs that ranged from bananas in cages and slavery, Jarreth and Josh Sterns have "had enough of that" at Midlothian High School.

The former Panther football players transferred to Waxahachie High School Friday after allegations of racial aspersions forced the family out of Midlothian, according to the elder Sterns.

In itself, transferring to Waxahachie — for reasons related to a football program or academic endeavor — would not be an issue for the brothers, according to UIL Section 400 of the UIL Constitution Student's Eligibility for All UIL Contests. In fact, Sect. 400 would support their move.

According to the regulation, an individual is eligible to participate in a varsity contest as a representative of a participant school if:

  • The individual is a full-time, day student in the high school the student represents
  • Has been in regular attendance at the participant school since the sixth class day of the present school year
  • Enrolled and in regular attendance for 15 or more calendar days before the contest
  • Did not change schools for the purpose of participating in a UIL academic contest

The Sterns' predicament, however, is a different matter.

"I was told, 'I should thank [my teammate's] ancestors because they bred me to be an athlete' by a white [athlete]. My dad had enough of that," Jarreth said. "We have a little cage in our locker room and a different student said they should put all the black people in there and throw bananas at them. I hope they were joking and truly don't feel that way."

Sterns said the comments and slurs began earlier in the year, but the racial divides became more commonplace since his time as a varsity starter.

"It was there my sophomore year when I was a starter, but they weren't open about it," Jarreth continued. "I didn't expect either of them to say that and I was kind of surprised. You're not born with that kind of stuff, it has to be taught at home. I kind of knew they were prejudiced but I didn't actually expect them to say it. I'm a pretty calm young man but if anyone with a shorter fuse heard that, there might have been some problems."

Jarreth, the Indians' new 5-foot-10 transfer, gained 1,096 total yards (321 pass, 773 rush) and scored 13 touchdowns (4 pass, 9 rush) last season despite missing three games because of a season-ending collarbone injury suffered during a game against Mansfield Lake Ridge High School on Oct. 14. Lone Star Prospects lists Jarreth as the No. 25 dual-threat quarterback in the state.

Josh, according to both Jarreth and Caden Sterns, a 6-foot-1 safety for Cibolo Biron P. Steele High School and holder of No. 41 Rivals and No. 116 ESPN 300 prep rankings, may be the most talented out of the three brothers.

Second-year Waxahachie Head Coach Jon Kitna said, though he only knew that the Sterns' came to Waxahachie because of racially-charged comments and the resulting tension, his only concern now is to offer an environment of equality.

Jarreth and Josh, per MISD Athletic Director Steven Keasler, withdrew from Midlothian High School on Wednesday — the same time the allegations surfaced. Keasler also said the school district began conducting an investigation involving undisclosed students or faculty members around in September.

"There's an investigation going on, so I'm not sure a comment needs to be made because it hasn't fully completed yet," Keasler said. "It would be premature to do so. These are very serious [allegations], but I can't get into who, what, when and how. I won't be able to comment on any student discipline because it's against the law for me to do that."

He added neither he nor the school district had any reports of racism or prejudice concerning the Sterns' or any black athlete since the original circumstance.

According to Keasler, who declined the opportunity to elaborate on the situation because of restrictions that fall under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), there was an issue between two players earlier in the year involving race that was investigated. He did not disclose the punishment or punishments dealt by the school district after the investigation concluded.

Doug Wendel, the head football coach and athletic coordinator at Midlothian High School, declined to comment when contacted.

FERPA's regulations, which govern all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education, strictly prohibit school officials to comment on students. According to FERPA's website, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student to release any information from a student's education record.

“Any situation indicating possible discrimination in MISD is not tolerated and is handled promptly," Keasler said. "The Sterns' are good students and great athletes and we wish them all the best. We will continue to provide the safest environment possible for all of our students.”