In February, during a college basketball game at Pearl River High School, fans made monkey noises as Black Nyack players fired free throws.
Then, this week, at a college track and field meet in Suffern, a seventh-grader from Pearl River Middle School allegedly used a racial slur against a competing athlete from Nyack Middle School.
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Officials from both schools released statements.
“The School District and Nyack School Board have been made aware of another reported incident of racist behavior by students in Pearl River, this time towards members of our modified track crew,” the superintendent wrote. Eudes Budhai. “Our district is pushing for expedited action and accountability from the Pearl River School District while exploring all possible legal remedies to protect our athletes from any future acts of racism and emotional harm. In addition to this, we are also exploring all options available through Section 1 Athletics and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHAA).We thank the Nyack/Valley Cottage community for continuing to support our brave and resilient athletes and all of our students throughout this extremely difficult. Together, we remain grounded in dignity, respect and fairness. We are Nyack Strong.
Pearl River Superintendent Dr. Marco Pochintesta also addressed the community.
“These offensive and unacceptable actions are hurtful and have resulted in serious consequences for those responsible,” he wrote. “While we have identified and held accountable the students involved, I know that this behavior in no way reflects the true character of our school community and we have zero tolerance for such hateful thoughts. We are reminded that we all have the obligation not only to confront racism when it occurs, but also to implement programs and allocate appropriate resources to prevent its continuation in our district. We must reiterate how absolutely essential it is to the values foundations of our school community that all people are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
He said the district is moving forward with the steps outlined in the school board’s policy on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Education adopted on April 12, 2022, which calls for the creation of an equity task force to ensure that schools and classrooms can be places where all students feel safe, welcomed and accepted.
“The work to resolve these incidents is difficult and necessary,” he wrote. “However, our greatest challenge and our best path forward in creating inclusive, safe and respectful environments in our schools and programs is to recognize and understand what fuels this hateful behavior and what can be done to prevent it. in the future.”
However, three months later, it is still in the planning stage. That’s not good enough, says local NAACP branch chief.
“If you’re going to create something and it means so much to you and you think it’s very awful and traumatic and you know all those things then you have to be on the ball, it happened on February 9 and we are now in May,” said Nicole Hines of the NAACP.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day also addressed the situation.
“For the second time in less than four months, students at Pearl River High School displayed racist behavior during a recent sporting event against Nyack High School,” he wrote. “As a former youth coach, I am very disappointed to learn that further racist taunts were made at a school athletics meet, and I strongly condemn this appalling behavior which has no place in our community. I urge the school district to detain these individuals. As I said in February, the actions of the few do not define the mindset of the many, but we all have a responsibility to denounce all acts of intolerance.
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