Scarice Addresses Allegations Of Antisemitism, Racism

Social media exploded last night, with allegations of antisemitic and racist behavior by Cheshire High School students at last night’s football game against Staples.

Images of an Israeli flag, and charges of racist chants, were shared widely. Host Cheshire defeated the visiting Wreckers in a non-league game, 42-14.

This morning, Westport Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice promised to investigate fully, and take action if necessary. At the same time, he urged caution and no rush to judgment, until all the facts are clear.

Scarice said:

“Late last night I was made aware of a number of social media posts alleging antisemitic and racist actions and comments directed towards Staples players and students during the Staples/Cheshire High School football game in Cheshire. I want to assure the community that any allegations such as these are taken with the utmost seriousness.

“I’d like to share some of the steps we’ve already taken. I received a message from the Cheshire Superintendent at 11:40pm last night, and he assured me that the district and Cheshire law enforcement are investigating this matter. We will continue to communicate until we have reached a resolution.

“I have spoken to Stafford Thomas, Staples principal, and Marty Lisevick, Staples athletic director, and they will speak with each and every Staples student or adult who has factual information about this matter.  “First Selectman Jim Marpe and I spoke this morning, and it is confirmed that our police chief, Foti Koskinas, will be in contact  with the Cheshire police chief.

“Perhaps most helpful in addressing this matter is the instant support that I received from the Director of the Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League, Steve Ginsburg. Steve has already spoken with me and Chief Koskinas, and to representatives from Cheshire, including their superintendent and police chief. We are all committed to cooperating, investigating, and addressing this matter.

“This incident was brought to light by some damning images and posts on social media. Given the volatility of social media, I caution all members of the community to take a measured approach in addressing matters such as these. It is necessary for the school administrations, and police departments when necessary, to gather facts before taking punitive action. If we confirm acts of anti-Semitism or race-based hate, we will assertively act. If there are misunderstandings, we will work together to learn from these events.

“Our  school administration will continue its investigation and follow up at the end of the day on Monday. If you were present at the game and have  information of any acts of antisemitism or race-based hate, please contact the Staples administration.”

12 responses to “Scarice Addresses Allegations Of Antisemitism, Racism

  1. Jonathan Van Hunt

    Although abhorrent, it is not illegal to be racist/anti semetic or express those sentiments via a chant at a sports game. After due process, if the students are found to have done what they are being accused of, their schools and their parents should make the decision of how they are to be punished. It is overreach and sets a dangerous precedent against the first amendment to involve the police or to call this a hate crime and bring in the ADL over some stupid kids. More wastes of money and more children’s lives to be thrown out with the bathwater by the punishment obsessed in our community.

  2. Over reach? Really? I am guessing these kids got these ideas from their parents. The Cheshire school should kick them off the team, for starters.

  3. As to the comment earlier, there is no unlimited first amendment right, particularly at school. It is well established that students in public school on public school grounds have very limited capacity for offensive, bullying and racist expression. (A case outlining scope of this limit was decided by the Supreme Court just this year).

    But, more to the point, why is it that anti semitism is considered minor in scope and an acceptable form of hate speech or worse? Somehow the world has returned to the notion that Jew hatred is appropriate– Jews are “rich” (most are not), Jews are white (many, and most in Israel are not), Jews are communists, bankers and capitalists, and so on.

    We call out racism for what it is, and appropriately so. And, so should we do so for anti semitism.

    • Jonathan Van Hunt

      that’s not what I said in my original comment, I clearly stated that anti semitism/racism is abhorrent, and said nothing about any type of prejudice being acceptable on the basis of creed. the over reach is getting the police involved in addition to the discipline system of the schools. The police in this town have in the past been overzealous in their pursuit and prosecution of youthful offenders. and perhaps if we had less limits on the first amendment, especially in schools, children would be exposed to a more vibrant free exchange of ideas and would be less likely to develop bigoted views.

  4. ANTI SEMITES ARE A SAD GROUP. THEY NO DOUBT ARE ANTI ANYONE WHO IS NOT EXACTLY LIKE THEM COLOR-WISE OR OTHERWISE. WHAT A SHAME FOR THEM

  5. See quotes below from an NBC CT article concerning the issue:

    “‘The superintendent of Cheshire schools said the allegations are the result of a ‘significant misunderstanding coupled with the fuel of social media.

    Our students are not guilty of the things for which they were accused,’ said Superintendent Jeffrey F. Solan.”

    https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/school-officials-respond-to-claims-of-anti-semitism-racism-at-cheshire-football-game/2590186/

  6. While the full investigation is still pending, I’ve been wondering what possible reason there might be for the Cheshire students to bring an Israeli flag to a local football game against another school, with a significant Jewish population.
    The chances of THAT being a “significant misunderstanding” are not high.

  7. Great P.R.

  8. Growing up conservative jewish, most kids say things like this that arent right of course but could easily be chalked up to outright stupidity over hatred. They think its funny the same way comedians make fun of races but arent actually racist. Most of these kids are even too young to really hate, and if they did its something they were taught not innate in nature. In either case, you have to be an adult to realize how damaging and centric the whole race and bias issues are these days and social media magnifies it 1000 times. Its not an excuse for bad behavior but possibly the reason. Sad situation and i would bet the poor parents of these kids are brutally upset.

    • “the poor parents of these kids are brutally upset.” I imagine that is correct, but also can imagine that the parent’s ire is directed not towards their kids, but towards the media, administration and all the others that didn’t get the so-called “joke” or whatever it is they think their kids were trying to get across. As others have said, kids learn from what they see around them.

      Last time I went to a Staples football game, I don’t remember needing to pack an Israeli flag or the flag of any nation. The logic that will be used to downplay and explain away what these kids were thinking will be telling.

  9. As they sing in “South Pacific,” you have to be carefully taught. I remember hearing incredibly racist and anti-Semitic wisecracks from a couple of my playmates when I was nine or ten, and since I knew their parents as well, I knew exactly where it came from. Checking up on those friends 40+ years later on social media, I can see that the early damage was never repaired. Sigh.

  10. I think we can all agree that bringing a confederate flag to any high school football game in CT is a bad joke and in very poor taste at best. The Israel flag has no reason to be at that particular game between Westport and Cheshire unless it was a a religious taunt to the Westport jewish players and fans. These flag wavings are offensive to the black and jewish players and fans from both Staples and Cheshire! I

    f the Cheshire fans didn’t know that going into the game, I hope they learn about it after the game. Kids have to learn how to behave both at home and in school. Someone didn’t do a good job.

    I can only hope some of the more adult Cheshire parents in the stands that evening tried to control the bad behavior of their kids. That was. nor reported initially.

    Interesting to hear on Monday what the school superintendents of Westport and Cheshire report.

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