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Racial taunts were hurled at high school players by adults: Colchester superintendent

Both Colchester and Ledyard Public Schools investigated an incident that took place during a girl's basketball game between Bacon Academy and Ledyard High School.

COLCHESTER, Conn. — The superintendent of Colchester Schools said adults who attended a high school girls' basketball game on Saturday hurled racial taunts at the opposing team's players. 

Both Colchester Public Schools and Ledyard Public Schools investigated the incident that took place during a girl's basketball game between Bacon Academy and Ledyard High School on Saturday.

“After the game is when things got hectic and out of control and Bacon Academy parents, or a parent, had called the Ledyard girls an ‘n-word’ as they were heading into the locker rooms,” Taylor Gunning from Colchester said. “I was definitely shocked by what I had witnessed.”

“He basically said, ‘these people we’re a bunch of N-words,’ and we’re a predominantly black team,” one Ledyard basketball player told FOX61 News.

“When she came to the car, she was crying hysterical,” the player’s mother said. “It made me feel awful inside that a group of parents, spectators from Bacon Academy felt that it was OK to say this after they won the game.”

Colchester Superintendent Jeffrey Burt said in a statement on Tuesday that an investigation into the initial allegations found that these "offensive comments and negative behavior by Bacon Academy parents" did take place.

"This is unacceptable, and stands directly against our school system’s commitment to common decency and sportsmanship," Burt said. "On behalf of Bacon Academy and our community, I offer our full and sincere apology to the Ledyard High School basketball players who were the targets of this abuse, as well as their families—this behavior does not meet the standards we promote in the Colchester schools, and we must do better. This is why we are examining this incident and taking the opportunity to review and improve the climate and culture of our entire school community."

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He went on to say that Bacon Academy players did not take part in the "negative behavior" and they had been targets of harassment on social media.

"We ask for the online harassment of these students to end immediately,” Burt said.

Ledyard School Superintendent Jason Hartling said anyone identified as having taken part are not welcome and will be banned from Ledyard Public schools facilities.

The Ledyard player’s mother said she sent an email to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and wants Bacon Academy to be held accountable.

“Do they have the green light to go into another school and repeat the same incident over and over and over again?” she said. “The basketball team should be suspended.”

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The Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the alleged racist remarks. 

“Racist harassment must always be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately, especially when it targets children,” said CAIR-CT Chairman Farhan Memon. “Educational institutions in Connecticut and nationwide must ensure all students are safe from racially-motivated bullying.”

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Late last year, Bacon Academy canceled the remainder of its football season after some athletic staff members were placed on administrative leave amid an investigation into alleged Title IX violations.

At the time, the Colchester superintendent said an investigation is underway after two interactions of student-athletes from two athletic teams. Staff members of one of the teams were placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the investigation.

Daniel Dashefsky is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at ddashefsky@fox61.com.

Elisha Machado is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at emachado@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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