Citing "safety concerns," the Plano Independent School District announced Thursday that they canceled the annual out-of-district football matchup between Plano Senior High School and an El Paso high school.
The matchup against Eastwood High School was to take place on Sept. 6 at Plano ISD's Tom Kimbrough Stadium in Murphy, Texas.
“We grieve with our neighbors in El Paso and are heartbroken that what is happening in society today is affecting our kids and our communities,” said Superintendent Sara Bonser.
“Our students and coaches were eager for this opportunity to come together with Eastwood High to promote a message of compassion and healing, but what should be a celebratory event would be encumbered by safety concerns for the participants and fans of both teams," she said. "Our top priority must be the safety of all.”
The cancelation comes after a gunman shot and killed 22 people on Aug. 3 inside an El Paso Walmart. It was later reported that the gunman said he went to the Walmart to target Mexicans.
Bonser said the district made the decision to cancel the game after talking with local law enforcement.
"Plano ISD administrators felt obligated to prioritize the safety of the participating players, students, families and communities, and have concluded that the timing of the game falls too soon after the tragedy in El Paso," the district said in a statement released Thursday.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, expressed criticism toward the district's decision on Twitter.
"After the attack against El Paso, Plano ISD had an opportunity to join us in sending a message against racism and violence," she wrote. "Our kids deserve better. They should be allowed to play."
Reactions were mixed on social media, with some calling the decision "nonsense" and others "smart."
"That's nonsense and no way of keeping our kids positive," wrote Daniel Jones on a WFAA Facebook post about the decision. "I hope another school from this area agrees to play...if anyone needs a gracious welcome right now, it's the people of El Paso."
"That's smart, especially since the shooter was connected to a group of white supremacists who were actively recruiting in Plano," countered Hamilton Joseph on the same post.
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