Last night, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice provided an update on Friday’s allegations of antisemitic and racist behavior in Cheshire, at the Staples High School football game. He wrote:
As the community is aware, there were allegations made on social media Friday evening, including: antisemitic and racist comments made in the stands, the presence of a Confederate flag, and the waving of an Israeli flag. School administrators and law enforcement from both Cheshire and Westport immediately commenced investigations.
Because of the rise in reports of antisemitic and racist incidents, we also immediately sought input from the Anti-Defamation League office in Connecticut. ADL works with schools and law enforcement to help ensure incidents are addressed appropriately.
The Cheshire Public Schools administration and the Cheshire Police Department have been most collaborative and in constant communication with our administration and police department, sharing information and supporting each other’s investigation. We are most grateful for this cooperation.
Today, we were informed by Cheshire Superintendent Jeff Solan and Chief of Police Neil Dryfe that their investigation has determined that the Israeli flag was not intended to intimidate Jewish people or motivated by antisemitism. Police reports indicate that the students who brought and waved the flag are Jewish, and have shared that they brought the flag to the game because it was a school spirit “Red, White & Blue Nite” in the student section.
At this point in the ongoing investigation — which includes the review of photos, video, and interviews with numerous students, staff, and police officers – there is no corroborating evidence to substantiate the presence of a Confederate flag.
Additionally, we were informed by the Cheshire Superintendent and Police Chief that when Staples High School cheerleaders observed students in the stands waving an Israeli flag, and made a complaint to a Cheshire police officer, the officer informed the Cheshire High School administration and an administrator directed the students holding the Israeli flag to put it away. Fortunately the use of police body cams have confirmed this finding.
That said, the Westport Public Schools is fully committed to finishing our investigation by speaking with every student or community member personally impacted by these events. We will listen to each first person eyewitness account of these events and will reserve actions before concluding our investigation. Receiving this information from our Cheshire colleagues is helpful, yet we must fulfill our obligations to listen to each and every account. The administration will continue these efforts and provide ongoing updates to the community.
It is critical that the community understands the level of transparency and thoroughness that we have taken.
The Westport Public Schools and ADL, along with the Cheshire Public Schools, remain committed to fighting antisemitism and racism in any form and remain united in that effort. School administrators will be available to discuss this situation with any students who wish to do so. We are continuing to gather facts from eyewitnesses, so please allow us the time needed to fully assess what occurred and determine the appropriate response. Please contact us if you have relevant information.