Monessen officials want apology for racial slurs at game
Monessen school officials are unhappy about the way their counterparts in Brentwood handled reports that students used racial slurs at a boys basketball game between the schools.
Parents and administrators are seeking an apology and WPIAL intervention, saying Brentwood students wore banana suits and ran around the court, directing insults at Monessen players on Friday night.
"It's not pleasant," said Linda Marcolini, superintendent of Monessen City School District. "Our kids here at Monessen tolerate a lot. That was very damaging for them."
Marcolini, who did not attend the game in Brentwood, said she spoke with people who described an "extremely racist" environment. The Monessen squad of mostly black and biracial players won the game, 59-45.
"It was almost borderline hate crime," Marcolini said. "... Students were yelling, 'monkeys' and 'cotton pickers.'"
Brentwood Borough School District officials said they are unaware anyone used racial epithets. Their investigation has not concluded, they said, and they intend to review policy covering student and fan conduct at games.
"No such comments were reported to district officials or security during the game. Otherwise, district officials would have taken swift, corrective action," they said in a statement.
WPIAL's executive committee, which typically allows districts to handle crowd conduct at athletic events, will decide on Monday whether to intervene, Executive Director Tim O'Malley said. Monessen officials notified the organization by email on Tuesday, saying the issue was not resolved, he said.
Jeff Healy, 48, of Brentwood described a "chippy, rowdy game." Two students wearing banana costumes left their Brentwood section seats and ran a lap around the court at halftime, Healy said, before officials escorted them out.
Healy heard no racial slurs.
"I would be the first to call them out if I heard that," he said. "There's no place for that in a high school or anywhere."
Monessen head football coach Andy Pacak, who attended, said Brentwood students chanted racist remarks.
"There were a lot of shouts and chants that alluded to monkeys," said Pacak. "From the tone of it, it was obvious what they were trying to say. It was a very uncomfortable situation."
Brentwood parents told the Tribune-Review that students often wear costumes to pump up the team and fans.
Boys have worn the costumes to school events, including basketball games, for several years, said Denise Pilarski, 49, whose son Jason is a junior guard on the Brentwood team.
"I've never thought there was any racial connection to the banana costumes until this," Pilarski said. "It was a very loud, very intense game, but I saw nothing and heard nothing that's warranting what's going on right now."
Officials from the districts talked on Monday and agreed Brentwood would punish the costumed students, Marcolini said. Brentwood officials would not say what punishment they issued.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Komen acceptance of drilling-linked money raises ire
- Corbett, Wolf resort to sticks, stones to attract attention
- Steelers notebook: Shazier returns just in time
- Lower Burrell man charged with shoplifting
- Critics claim state Attorney General Kane puts politics first
- New Kensington to convert tennis courts to dek hockey rink
- DEP orders cleanup of former Jeannette Glass property to resume
- Fire at Flight 93 National Memorial hints at struggle to safeguard historic artifacts
- Freeport man accused of having child pornography images
- Monsour hospital properties sold at free-and-clear sale