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I-Team: Mother hopes for ‘teachable moment’ after racial slur aimed at student-athlete in WBASD


LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — An investigation is underway in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District into allegations that a racial slur was directed at a student-athlete, a member of the junior high school cross country team.

School district officials confirm the racial slur was allegedly made by at least one member of the junior high school football team. Friday, Eyewitness News spoke with the teen who was the target of the racial slur, and his mother. They say they want justice.

“I felt very, very mad and angry at them. But mostly I felt sad and ashamed that I got called that because of the way I looked,” explained the student who was targeted.

The 13-year-old student of color spoke out about an incident, last Thursday, at the Leo E. Solomon-Plains Memorial Junior High School athletic field. He is a member of the junior high school cross country team and he was running by members of the junior high football team when someone shouted out the “n” word.

“As I was running by I heard one of them use the word and it made me upset, and for about five to 10 minutes, I was just quiet then I decide to say something,” said the student.

He told his cross country coach about it, who immediately looked into the incident. The teen and his mother wanted to speak out about the incident. However, they did not want to be identified, since the student is only 13 years old.

“They should know it’s not the right thing to say. That word is not okay to say to people whether you’re saying it as a joke or if you’re saying it in a mean way. Neither of which is right. You should be responsible for what you do,” the student explained.

“The end result is there are no real consequences,” said the mother of the student.

The teenager’s mother says she met with school district officials on Wednesday and she was told officials were unable to identify the student responsible for the racial slur. So, punishment such as suspensions, could not be handed down.

“I’m not looking for punishment. I’m looking for this to at least be a learning experience for these boys,” said the student’s mother.

The I-Team spoke with Mike Namey, the athletic director for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, who says this will be a learning experience for these students as well as future generations.

We do not condone the use of this type of language. We have not been able to identify the person or persons responsible, so we cannot impose penalties without having that information. However, we are using this incident as a teachable moment for our students. We are starting a process moving forward that will include sensitivity training for our students to provide a better understanding of cultural differences within our society.”

Mike Namey, Althletic Director, Wilkes-Barre Area School District

Namey says that members of the junior high school football team had a meeting with Reverand Shawn Walker to talk about racial sensitivity, in light of this incident.

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