Mound Westonka hockey players and parents irate about Harlem Shake video suspensions

Mound Westonka students were suspended for dancing on tables while filming their own Harlem Shake video last Friday.
Mound Westonka students were suspended for dancing on tables while filming their own Harlem Shake video last Friday.

:::: UPDATE :::: Mound Westonka principal says Harlem Shake video contained inappropriate "hip-thrusting"

Last Friday, the second-seeded Mound Westonka hockey team played a sectional playoff game against seventh-seeded Blake.

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They did so without six players who were controversially suspended for participating in the production of a Harlem Shake video in the school cafeteria earlier that day for a TV production class project. And after Mound Westonka lost the game 6-4, some players and parents are blaming administrators for blowing the incident way out of proportion and ruining their season.

The Star Tribune provides background about the lunchroom incident:

The students, including six hockey players, were recording a school-sanctioned video of themselves performing the "Harlem Shake" in the cafeteria so that they could submit for a weekly school broadcast, [Senior hockey player Jack Brandstetter, 17], said.

As two lunchroom supervisors watched approvingly, the dancers recruited other ­students to join in and some of the dancers jumped onto lunch tables, Brandstetter said.

He said he did not see any tables or other school property damaged or any food thrown. After the dance, as he and others were returning their lunch trays, the school's resident police officer and its activities director, Dion Koltes, confiscated the video camera students had been using, Brandstetter said.

He and the others then returned to their classrooms, where they heard that other police officers had been called to the school to help examine the video.

About 2 p.m., he said, he was called into the office, where Randklev, Koltes, the school police officer and an assistant principal handed him a $75 ticket they said was for "engaging in a riotlike activity and starting a mob."

He was also told that he would be suspended for two days and would not be allowed to play in Friday night's game."I was totally, wrongfully accused, and not given a chance to defend myself," he said. The other dance ­participants were called in one by one after him, and told the same thing, he said.

Footage of the Mound Westonka students' Harlem Shake dance either didn't make it to YouTube or has been pulled, but this KARE 11 report contains the entire video -- all 17 seconds worth. Here it is (scrolled to the 50-second mark for the raw video):

The suspensions made the presence of school activities director Dion Koltes at last Friday's game very uncomfortable. From WCCO:

[Koltes] needed to be escorted from the section quarterfinal game by police officers after parents started yelling at him for Mound-Westonka's loss. [Click the link for video]

"You have no idea what you did to these kids," one man yells at Koltes.

KARE 11 got an explanation of the suspensions from Mound Westonka Principal Keith Randklev:

Randklev says school policies were violated. He said, "It got to a point where it simply as one of the students would say it got out of hand."

He said students making the video were told they could enlist the help of students at their lunch table but, "There was no denial or approval that anything was to take place in the lunchroom. There are various open areas in our building and the belief was that students would coordinate some number of kids from the lunch table, I suspect, for this video."...

When asked if anyone was hurt or anything was broken, Randklev said, "I'll not comment on that but nevertheless, again, as I said, there were school policies violated and we followed through on that."

Over the weekend, Randklev announced the suspensions had been reduced from two days to just one. But that's far from satisfactory from some parents who are "calling for the dismissal of administrators who authorized the discipline," the Strib reports. Brandstetter, upset parents, and a lawyer plan to make a case for the termination of the involved administratiors during tonight's Mound Westonka school board meeting.

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