Volleyball player’s parents allege racism, bullying at SFIS


September 24 – The parents of a Santa Fe High volleyball player who is banned from attending varsity this year have filed a request for a restraining order against the New Mexico Activities Association, claiming it failed to consider allegations of racism and bullying, which prompted the girl to transfer from the Santa Fe Indian School this year.

Tina Harte and Chris Geissinger, parents of Angelina Geissinger, filed for a preliminary injunction in First Judicial District Court Sept. 6 after the NMAA ruled their daughter ineligible to play varsity-level volleyball for Santa Fe High and their Appeal denied had a hardship waiver. The NMAA oversees high school sports in the state.

The parents allege Angelina Geissinger faced racist and bullying behavior from students at the Santa Fe Indian School because she was “a light-skinned, blue-eyed Native American woman,” the request said.

Santa Fe Public Schools athletic director Marc Ducharme said Angelina Geissinger, a junior, is playing in junior varsity at Santa Fe High in 2022.

According to the document, the parents claimed their daughter was subjected to “various instances of bullying, harassment, intimidation and racial discrimination by students and faculty” during her visit to SFIS from 2018 to 2021, which impacted her mental, emotional and physical health.

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They also alleged in their request that players from the Santa Fe Indian School sub-varsity prevented her from leaving a bathroom while the team was competing in the state volleyball tournament in Rio Rancho last November. According to the document, the incident prompted her to tell her parents, “I’m done. I can’t take it anymore.”

Harte declined to comment, while Chris Geissinger said he was fighting for more than just her daughter’s desire to play varsity. He said transfer rules needed to be changed to accommodate all students. He also declined to comment on the specifics of his daughter’s experience at SFIS because Harte works at the school.

“I fight for all the kids who are being fooled,” said Chris Geissinger. “The NMAA makes a lot of decisions based on a book they’ve had since 1921, and they label everything. You’re confusing kids right now. I mean, how much blood does it take for things to change?”

Kimball Sekaquaptewa, SFIS Public Information Officer, wrote in an email that the school is prohibited from disclosing information about specific incidents or students but takes allegations of bullying on its campus “very seriously.” She added that the school has policies and procedures in place to deal with these incidents.

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NMAA associate director Dusty Young said the organization does not comment on legal matters.

Angelina Geissinger played at SFIS as an eighth grader and sophomore at the varsity level. As a freshman, she was a member of the junior varsity and varsity teams at Santa Fe High when SFIS fielded no athletic teams for the shortened 2021 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NMAA allowed athletes from schools not participating in any sport that spring to attend a public school provided they lived in that school’s district.

In a letter Angelina Geissinger wrote to the NMAA to support her request for a hardship waiver, she said she had experienced “almost constant racism and bullying” because she was a “light-skinned, blue-eyed Native American woman.” She added that she used volleyball as an outlet to “get away from all the negative thoughts that my classmates put in my head.” She wrote the experience improved her mental, emotional, and physical health and taught her the benefits of teamwork and collaboration.

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Her letter also stated that she had a great experience playing at Santa Fe High but decided to return to SFIS “in the hope that things would improve”.

“I can’t change my appearance,” Angelina Geissinger wrote, “and I’ve realized that some of my classmates will continue to harass me about it.”

The request for an injunction argued that the NMAA’s use of Article 6.6.2(E) to determine Geissinger’s eligibility was capricious and arbitrary. The bylaws state that a student with a good record at the previous school is ineligible to play for 180 school days.

The document said the NMAA sent a letter to the Geissinger’s parents on March 1, explaining that the organization had determined that no hardship existed. Subsequent appeals to the NMAA Board of Directors and the Public Education Department upheld the original decision.

The NMAA filed an opposition to the request for a restraining order on September 8, but the case was assigned to Judge Bryan Biedscheid when Francis J. Mathew withdrew on September 9. As of Friday, no hearing date had been filed.



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