JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - The Bonnabel High School Alumni Association took action after a picture surfaced showing the majority of the school's football team kneeling during the national anthem at last Friday's game.
"All of those parents should have been informed and had been made aware that this is what we're going to do, so they'd have an opportunity to speak with their children. I don't know if that happened or not," coach J.T. Curtis said.
Curtis, head football coach at John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge, points out that some of the football players could be as young as 14.
"They're not all seniors that are 17 or 18, so there's pressure that could have been applied that wouldn't have been appropriate. I think that it's something through the parent and the child," Curtis said.
"I was a bit taken aback at first. Keep in mind, I know what is happening nationally with some of the protests that's happening around the country," Jefferson Parish Superintendent Isaac Joseph said.
Joseph said the students are within their rights if they refuse to stand.
"They do have a right, and legally, we do not have any right to punish or offer any sanctions against the team or team members," Joseph said.
That was the message the superintendent passed along Wednesday during a meeting with all of the Jefferson Parish athletic directors.
Still, the players' actions aren't sitting well with the Bonnabel Alumni Association, which said it has decided to cancel a week of activities, including a breakfast and social, surrounding a big upcoming game between East Jefferson and Bonnabel. And at least one company that contributes to the week's activities has withdrawn its donations.
Coach Curtis said he doesn't know the circumstances surrounding Friday's game protest, but he said as a longtime coach, he would have made sure to talk to his players first.
"I would try to have them understand why I don't think that's the proper way to do it," he said. "If we want to make change, then we have to make change because of how we live our lives and because of being actively involved to bring about change. Make a sign or kneeling down is not going to make a difference in the hearts of people."
The Alumni Association is also working to determine how to handle an upcoming golf tournament that supports, in part, the school's athletic department.