KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) - The use of the "N" word before a basketball game has brought suspensions in the Ken-Ton School District.
Racial tensions at Kenmore East high school have led to the suspension of the entire girl's varsity basketball team. In a pregame team meeting, the girls came up with a chant using the "N" word, a racial slur.
But one of the players is black and refused to go along with the chant. The girl, described as an "A" student, would later get into a fight with one of her teammates. At that time, school officials learned of the inappropriate pregame chant and suspended the entire team.
The school says the black player was not suspended for the chant, she was disciplined for the fight afterwards.
"The varsity team is typically left alone to psyche itself up, or whatever you'd like to call it, and/or get ready for a team game. Typically for about 30, 40 seconds, 60 seconds or so. This is when the chant had been mentioned," explained Ken-Ton School Superintendent Mark Mondanero.
Late Thursday afternoon, News 4 spoke with the mother of the offended player. She told us that she and her daughter are generally satisfied with the action taken by the school. However, they're still trying to figure out the girl's future with the team.
The district released a statement, which reads, in part, "On Monday, December 5th, 2011, it came to the attention of school administrators that there was a physical encounter between two Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity basketball teammates. Both Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity Basketball players were immediately given out of school suspensions for the physical altercation. This is standard suspension protocol found in the District's Code of Conduct.
District administrators began an inquiry into exactly why one member of the Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity basketball team would strike a fellow teammate. District administrators wanted to speak to all members of the girls basketball team, individually and in groups, and were even doing so up until mid-day of Thursday December 8th, 2011. What made speaking to every member of the team a little more difficult was the fact that students were only in school one-half day on Wednesday December 7th, 2011 because of staff development.
The information members of the Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity Basketball team eventually shared with administrators was incredibly inappropriate, insensitive, and absolutely unacceptable. District administrators were told members of the team would collectively chant a one-sentence, racially insensitive cheer in the privacy of their locker room prior to games. Information gathered from students lead administrators to believe that students waited for adults to leave the room during the very brief, pregame, team meeting. It is believed that coaches, staff, fans, or anyone outside of the Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity basketball team never heard the private chant, which according to some athletes predates this school year.
It is the District's understanding that the reason why "Student A" as engaged in a physical
altercation with her teammate is because of her extreme displeasure and discomfort with the
private team chant. Superintendent Mondanaro has met with "Student A", shared his concern,
frustration, and disappointment with the inappropriate and insensitive acts of others, and shared with her the swift, immediate, and firm action he is taking in light of this very serious incident.
• All Kenmore East High School Varsity Girls basketball team practices have been
suspended through the rest of this week.
• Saturday's scheduled game against Olean has been postponed.
• The related team field trip to Saint Bonaventure University has been canceled.
• The student athletes will all serve a one-game suspension by the end of the season, at a
game to be determined at a later date.
• Superintendent Mondanaro is voluntarily rescinding last year's Niagara Frontier League's
Sportsmanship Award for the entire school.
• The students who engaged in the insensitive and unfortunate chant will receive a two-day,
out of school suspension.
• The student athletes will be required to partake in cultural sensitivity training, which at this time is being arranged through an outside agency.
Superintendent Mondanaro empathizes and understands the sensitive reasons why "Student A"
engaged in a physical altercation with a teammate. However, the Student Code of Conduct is
clear: students must face disciplinary action for physically striking another student. District administrators always encourage all students to report any inappropriate activities to teachers, administrators, or staff.
The insensitive chant is absolutely unacceptable, insensitive, and not representative of the diverse student body within the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District. This type of insensitivity to one of our students is wrong, unacceptable, unfortunate, and will never, ever be tolerated."
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