Sidney Gilstrap-Portley, who is 25-years-old, wanted to relive his high school basketball glory days, so he took the fake name Rashun Richardson and pretended to be a high school student in Dallas, authorities allege.
It’s probably a fantasy that more than one person has had (but would never do): To get a chance to relive high school with the wisdom that only age can provide. However, Gilstrap-Portley actually pulled off the masquerade for months, authorities allege, and now he’s been charged with a crime. He also goes by the name Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gilstrap-Portley Convinced School Officials He was a Hurricane Harvey Evacuee, Reports Allege
Gilstrap-Portley was able to pose as a high school student so easily because he took advantage of the chaos in Texas around Hurricane Harvey, which led to many displaced people, including teenagers, going to new schools and finding welcoming environments, authorities allege. He told school officials he was a Hurricane Harvey refugee, according to CBS Dallas, when he enrolled as a high school student.
“He took that as an opportunity to gain access to our schools,” Dallas ISD spokeswoman Robyn Harris told The Dallas Morning News. “He was fairly savvy to be able to utilize that type of position, knowing that we were accepting Harvey students.”
According to WFAA, federal law required the district to accept Hurricane Harvey displaced students without requiring documentation they may have lost, perhaps only requiring just a physical and immunization records.
Gilstrap-Portley originally enrolled at Skyline High School in the Dallas Independent School District as a freshman student before transferring to Hillcrest High School, according to NBC. He went by the name “Rashun Richardson” for his renewed high school experience.
Gilstrap-Portley’s date of birth is actually November 16, 1992, according to online records, which would make him 25. In a letter sent home to parents, the Dallas Independent School District wrote “we recently became aware of a student enrolled at our school under false pretenses claiming to be a displaced Hurricane Harvey victim.”
2. Gilstrap-Portley Was a Star on the Basketball Team for Hillcrest High but a Former Coach Recognized Him
Perhaps not surprisingly considering he’s actually in his mid 20s, Gilstrap-Portley excelled on the high school basketball court. However, his days of renewed high school stardom vanished when a former coach spotted him playing and recognized him as a player he’d had years before.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Gilstrap-Portley AKA Rashun Richardson “was a star for Hillcrest’s team for the 2017-18 season. High school coaches voted him the District 11-5A offensive player of the year.” The former coach informed Hillcrest that “one of my former players who graduated a time ago is playing for you,” the district spokeswoman informed the Dallas Morning News.
“I went to a playoff basketball game and I saw the team play.. he didn’t look any different than the other students, you know,” said school Superintendent Michael Hinojosa to NBC.
Gilstrap-Portley is accused of the crime of tampering with government records. A February article in the Preston Hollow described the basketball team’s success and mentioned “Rashun Richardson.”
“The Panthers led by two points at halftime but couldn’t hang on against the Dragons. Daniss Jenkins paced Hillcrest with 18 points, followed by Rashun Richardson with 17 and Darius Harris with 12,” the article said. Hillcrest lost in the postseason.
The Dallas Morning News alleged that he dated a 14-year-old classmate while at Hillcrest and reported that authorities believe he posed as a high school student because he wanted to play basketball.
3. He Was Previously a College Basketball Player, Reports Say
The Dallas Morning-News reports that Gilstrap-Portley “appears to have had a collegiate basketball career at Dallas Christian College.” Online records say Sidney Gilstrap played as a guard for Dallas Christian in 2013-2014. He was listed as being 6 foot 1 inch tall.
According to WFAA, Sidney Gilstrap-Portley graduated from North Mesquite High School in 2011. He does come up linked to a woman with the last name Richardson in online records, although it’s not clear the relation.
4. His MySpace Page Is Filled With Basketball Photos & References
Sidney Gilstrap-Portley had a MySpace page that is filled with basketball photos and references. “Practicing free throws,” said one. “Chillin thinking if i wana go back in work sme more (racial slur) on dat court,” said another.
He wrote on another basketball picture: “da elite basketball supastar” and “me shooting freethrows after getting fouled by nextstep.” He captioned a photo, “No one can come between me and my first love…basketball.”
He wrote with another picture: “Mr.elite f*ck wit me jus got dne f*ckin wit da college hoopers need competition.”
5. The District Has Promised to Look More Closely at Students in Need
The School District released a statement calling the situation “unique.”
“This is a unique situation that shows us areas we need to take another look at when we open our doors to students in these situations,” the district said in the statement. “Safety is always our top priority, and we are reviewing our policies to strengthen district efforts while still helping those who are in need.”
The school superintendent told NBC: “For him to take advantage of the Harvey situation and then the homeless laws and get himself in front of our students.. it is frustrating something couldn’t have been done more quickly.”