Minnetonka High School girls' basketball coach Leah Dasovich stepped down Tuesday, one day after local activists planned to protest a varsity game in the wake of allegations of racism shared on social media that have roiled the team.
"For the health and well-being of our student-athletes, as well as for that of my family, I have made the difficult decision to step away for the remainder of the year as head girls basketball coach," Dasovich said in a statement.
One of the team's assistant coaches will be appointed to fill Dasovich's position, district spokesperson JacQui Getty said. Dasovich was named head coach in 2011.
In the days leading up to Dasovich's departure, controversy had swirled over a social media post that said a basketball player directed a racial slur at Black students at Minnetonka High.
In a note to families, Superintendent Dennis Peterson acknowledged the high school "has been struggling with a challenging situation involving a dispute between some students over the use of hateful language and actions."
"This situation has led to others sharing their experiences about how they have heard racial slurs and other derogatory comments used against students in our schools and that sometimes those comments go unaddressed, with no consequences," he wrote.
The district canceled Tuesday's girls basketball game against Hopkins shortly after activists pledged to rally beforehand. Officials also canceled a game planned for Saturday.
Getty said Tuesday's contest was canceled in part because "the team was the focus of an outside group's protest."
The district has not decided whether the two games will be rescheduled, Getty said.
The girls' basketball team in a statement asked for the community's support in moving forward through events that "have impacted our program."
"But we will not let them define us," the team wrote. "Black lives matter and we will continue to support our diverse teammates and program."
The team co-wrote the statement, which the Minnetonka athletic department reposted on Twitter, Getty said.
Other metro-area districts also have grappled with controversies over racism in the past year.
Last April, dozens of students staged a walkout at Centennial High in Circle Pines after an Asian student was bombarded with text messages that included racist language and vulgar remarks.
And in November, the Prior Lake-Savage Area school board members walked out of a special meeting when students and activists confronted them about what teens described as a racist culture within the district.
Officials in Minnetonka say they've mounted efforts recently to "support belonging and inclusion across the district."
One of those efforts, Getty said, is the development of so-called Belonging Committees made up of parents and students on each campus who meet regularly to discuss school climate.
The Minnetonka district also has a confidential reporting system that allows students to anonymously flag "incidents of racism, discrimination and other concerns."