A 25-year-old Dallas man was arrested on Friday for pretending to be a victim of Hurricane Harvey in order to play high school basketball.
In September, Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley allegedly enrolled fraudulently at Skyline High School, claiming to be a 17-year-old refugee of the storm that devastated southeast Texas last summer. Later in the fall, he transferred to Hillcrest High School, where he enlisted in the school's basketball team and dated a 14-year-old freshman girl.
DISD says 25-year-old Sidney Gilstrap-Portley passed himself off as a freshman, attending Hillcrest High for the la… https://t.co/L1Btl0XrxD— Jack Highberger (@Jack Highberger) 1526418520.0
Gilstrap-Portley was charged with tampering with government records and is currently out on bond. He enrolled at Skyline under the pseudonym Rashun Richardson, according to Dallas ISD spokeswoman Robyn Harris. The school opened its doors to displaced students after Hurricane Harvey inundated the Houston region with devastating floods.
"He took that as an opportunity to gain access to our schools. He was fairly savvy to be able to utilize that type of position, knowing that we were accepting Harvey students."
What we learned from our reporting👇🏼 1. He first enrolled at Skyline, then Hillcrest High 2. He told the school… https://t.co/IYF4XNa5Yh— Claire Ballor (@Claire Ballor) 1526438575.0
According to Dallas Morning News, Gilstrap-Portley transferred to Hillcrest High School in October, allegedly so that he could play basketball. The school accepted him on the premise of his story that he had been left homeless following the catastrophic storm. His cover was blown after former coaches recognized him from a collegiate basketball tournament that took place the previous spring.
Gilstrap-Portley was arrested over the weekend, now faces felony tampering with government record charges.— Jack Highberger (@Jack Highberger) 1526419278.0
"He was a good kid," Phillip Randall, a basketball coach at North Mesquite High School, said. "I never had any problems out of him. That's why I was shocked when I heard that all this came out because that's not the kid that I knew." Randall wasn't the coach who knew him from the tournament, however, he had previously coached Gilstrap-Portley back in 2011.
The mother of the 14-year-old girl whom he dated was horrified at the news, and said that she never approved of the relationship in the first place. "It's unbelievable to me that he could get away with this," she said. "I don't know what, how [the school] let this slip through the cracks."
Hillcrest principal Chris Bayer apologized to students and their families, and expressed regret that his school's program to help those in need was so viciously exploited. He also notified the school district when he "became aware of a student enrolled at our school under false pretenses claiming to be a displaced Hurricane Harvey victim."
"We believe it is absolutely essential that every young person, especially in times of great difficulty, feels safe and secure, and that was the guiding principle when we were welcoming students displaced by the hurricane. "This is a unique situation that shows us areas that need improving when we open our doors to students in times of need."
Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa also issued a public apology, and said that the school district will be reviewing their policies to ensure that those who enroll with refugee status are properly vetted.
"We need to make sure we follow better protocols to try and prevent this from happening, but unfortunately this was almost like a perfect storm. To the parents, I apologize. You send your kid to be safe at school and to participate in extracurricular activities and this should not happen."
The principal of Hillcrest High School in Dallas sent a letter home this week about the 25 year old who enrolled, c… https://t.co/VywuS5xJxN— Alan Scaia (@Alan Scaia) 1526468299.0
Twitter was understandably perplexed at the bizarre nature of the story.
I was a bit surprised that I hadn't heard of 2021 G Rashun Richardson when he began making headlines last fall in t… https://t.co/z4qwrmBIvR— sᴘᴇɴᴄᴇʀ ᴘᴜʟʟɪᴀᴍ (@sᴘᴇɴᴄᴇʀ ᴘᴜʟʟɪᴀᴍ) 1526443197.0
@Rockdoc2014 Tragic. I cannot imagine the anger/confusion/etc felt by the parent(s) of the girl in this circumstanc… https://t.co/f1h1Ch1wdU— sᴘᴇɴᴄᴇʀ ᴘᴜʟʟɪᴀᴍ (@sᴘᴇɴᴄᴇʀ ᴘᴜʟʟɪᴀᴍ) 1526445212.0
@SpencerPulliam It's so many old guys from other countries that play here, we don't know how old these guys are, a… https://t.co/tv1X3bdnoB— Mayham2018 (@Mayham2018) 1526444770.0