Suspended Lacrosse Player Speaks Out

May 1, 2012 Updated May 1, 2012 at 11:26 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe
By Allen Leight

May 1, 2012 Updated May 1, 2012 at 11:26 PM EDT

Clarence, NY (WKBW) - A meeting was held Tuesday night between parents and the Clarence School District to discuss a recent modified girls lacrosse game.

Some players on the team are accused of using racial slurs during a game against Sweet Home Middle School last Thursday. Clarence Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks wrote a letter to parents, stating there is enough evidence to believe that the allegations have merit. The school district has decided to suspend the team from playing its 4 upcoming lacrosse games. The team consists of close to two dozen 7th and 8th grade girls.

"If it could be proven that they really did say some inappropriate things, I do believe a fair punishment should go forth for the person who did it," said Shari Ahlers, a mother of one of the Clarence players. "But a 4 game suspension of the entire team, I believe is a very unfair punishment."

The Clarence team members are now required to go through a cultural awareness program put on by the National Federation for Just Communities.

"We plan timely and interesting topics that will have the students really open up and talk about their feelings and experiences," said Lana Benatovich, President of the National Federation for Just Communities. "They can also teach us about what they've been taught and what they want to teach themselves."

The media was banned from Tuesday's meeting, however some parents expressed their frustration with the suspension afterward.

"There are some angry parents, just angry because it wasn't done fairly," said Eric Williams, whose daughter, Emiah plays on the modified team.

He, along with other parents that have spoken with Eyewitness News feel the Superintendent reacted without any evidence that racial slurs were used.

"I think they should have actually interviewed some of the Clarence parents that were present but they weren't interviewed at all. It was just hearsay from the Sweet Home School system," added Williams.

8th grader Emiah says she didn't hear any racial slurs, but admitted that comments were made back-and-forth between the two teams.

"I think that in the competitive nature there were things said from both teams, yes."

An attorney hired the parents of one Clarence player says the Superintendent did discuss the possibility of reinstating those four games, but that he would not commit to it.

He also says his clients feel that the superintendents actions create the perception of guilt, even though administrators from Sweet Home School district tell him they need to continue their investigation.

He says his next step will be have a meeting with the district Board of Education to appeal the suspension.