Anthony Wayne, Perrysburg investigating alleged racial slur at lacrosse match
WHITEHOUSE, Ohio (WTVG) - Was a racial slur uttered at a Northwest Ohio high school lacrosse game Thursday? That’s what leaders at Anthony Wayne schools are trying to figure out.
The incident prompted their opponents, the Perrysburg Yellow Jackets, to walk off the field.
Anthony Wayne schools officials are asking the public for additional time to gather all the facts they can come up with to determined exactly what happened.
Thursday night Perrysburg and Anthony Wayne squared off for a boys lacrosse Northern Lakes League title.
“Fantastic. Two great teams. It was back and forth with the scoring,” said Steve Rodzos, a Perrysburg High School lacrosse parent.
Before both teams came out for the second half Rodzos noticed his son and fellow Yellow Jackets leaving the field. The game was now over. He later found out that a Perrysburg player said he believed he heard a racial slur directed at one of his teammates.
“They had made a pact among themselves that if that were to happen again they would walk off in solidarity and not tolerate it,” said Rodzos.
The word “again” is being used because Perrysburg players said the same thing happened in a game a few weeks before. That school’s administration telling 13abc that that incident from a few weeks ago could not be corroborated through an investigation which included looking at video.
Anthony Wayne High School’s principal said in statement to 13abc that the Thursday night report is being taken seriously, will be investigated thoroughly and they’ll pursue appropriate due process.
Perrysburg players felt the only appropriate step was to walk away and back their teammate.
“Really proud, very proud of what they did. Everyone talks about doing the right thing and it’s easy to do the right thing in the easy times and they did it in the hard times. The world gets bigger when they leave high school but this is their world and they worked hard for that to be in the championship and to be playing and it was a big decision and I was very proud,” said Rodzos.
FULL LETTER FROM ANTHONY WAYNE SCHOOLS TO PARENTS:
I feel it is important to reach out following reports of an incident of alleged improper conduct that the district is currently investigating. Anthony Wayne Local Schools (AWLS) administrators were notified of an inappropriate, racially derogatory comment allegedly made by one of our varsity athletes toward a Perrysburg athlete during Thursday night’s boys lacrosse game. I want you to know we are taking this situation very seriously and are currently conducting an investigation in partnership with Perrysburg Schools. Behavior of this nature does not represent the culture, attitudes, or feelings that AWLS expects of its students, staff, parents and community. The District is committed to providing a safe, empathetic and respectful environment for all. As such, we do not condone or tolerate racist and/or derogatory comments or actions. This type of behavior goes against our codes of conduct, are not reflective of the core values we strive to instill in our school community, and are not acceptable nor tolerated. Earlier this week, dozens of individuals met this week to discuss our hopes and ideas for our schools as a part of our strategic planning process. As a part of these conversations, the importance of maintaining strong interpersonal relationships, providing opportunities for real-world learning, supporting the wellbeing of our students, and building a positive culture was stressed by our school community. We have faced and will continue to face challenges. There will be times when we disagree. But I believe that one of the great things about our community is that we always find ways to come together to provide an excellent learning environment for all of our students. I encourage parents to use this opportunity to talk with their children about the importance of demonstrating awareness, fairness, and respect for others’ perspectives, feelings, experiences and cultures, even if they are on opposing sides. The District will not be deterred and will continue our work to create a positive culture and climate that is inclusive, supportive and equitable for all students, staff, families and visitors, in our schools, at school events and in our wider community.
FULL LETTER FROM PERRYSBURG SCHOOLS TO PARENTS:
I wanted to take a moment to address some recent events that have occurred in the athletic arena. These issues are not always easy to discuss but it is imperative as a community that we address it.
In the last three weeks, there have been two incidents involving alleged comments made during athletic events that were regarded as racially charged. In each case, these alleged words were heard by the teammates of the Perrysburg student athletes to whom the comments were directed. In these alleged cases, one occurred with a private school and the other a public school. The other schools reacted quickly and thoroughly to the situations, including one of the schools issuing a public statement.
In both cases, we are proud of the way our coaches and athletes responded to each situation. We respect the courage it takes for individuals who may be the target of hurtful statements and their teammates to come forward and say something about what they heard.
No school is immune from these events. In Perrysburg, we communicate with our families when we discover or encounter hate speech, as we reported recently when graffiti was discovered in a bathroom stall. Remaining silent has not been the path we have chosen in addressing these situations. We feel it is only when we identify, call attention to and commit to addressing this that awareness and change come. Equally important is our families need to see how we respond when these instances occur.
With the recent events still fresh in our minds, we have begun a dialogue with school leaders across Northwest Ohio in our athletic community. This important dialogue will focus on how we can work together to foster a better culture of high expectations, increased communications and when such incidents occur, we want to speak as one community, with one voice against hate speech.
Most importantly, as we plan for this work, we are excited about the possibility of bringing a variety of student athletes from each participating school together and give them a voice, listen to them and learn what they are experiencing and how they would like to see the greater athletic community respond when faced with these issues. I have been so proud of our student athletes throughout these situations, not only for their actions but for what they have shared about why they stand together. There is no doubt that every school and every team has the potential to contribute to a community that stands against hate.
We may be competitors, wear different jerseys and even be bitter rivals when we take to the fields, courts or track. However, all of our student athletes are part of a larger community. When these events occur, we should not respond as individuals, a team or a school. We must respond as a community. Our goal for this community is to maintain an environment where student athletes, coaches, officials, families and fans can come together and be supported and valued for who they are. We want to build a culture in our community where we stand together and are willing to hold each other accountable as players, coaches, families and fans alike.
We are not sure where this conversation will go, but we are committed to ensuring that our students feel supported and welcomed within our community.
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