District Deals With Insensitive Incident Concerning Kenmore East Girls Varsity Basketball Team

December 8, 2011 Updated Dec 9, 2011 at 12:42 AM EDT

By WKBW News

December 8, 2011 Updated Dec 9, 2011 at 12:42 AM EDT

TONAWANDA, NY ( release)–Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro launched an inquiry this week concerning an unacceptable and unfortunate incident concerning the Kenmore East Girls Varsity Basketball team, and in an effort to maintain open, honest, and direct lines of communication with students, staff, parents, and the public, is releasing all of the information gathered just this week.

Because of federal privacy laws concerning what information the District can legally release about the records of students, Superintendent Mondanaro’s administration is sharing every bit of
information it legally can with the community in order to continue fostering a culture of transparency and honesty.

On Monday, December 5th, 2011, it came to the attention of school administrators that there was a physical encounter between two Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity basketball teammates.
Both Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity Basketball players were immediately given out of school suspensions for the physical altercation.

This is standard suspension protocol found in the District’s Code of Conduct.

District administrators began an inquiry into exactly why one member of the Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity basketball team would strike a fellow teammate. District administrators wanted to speak to all members of the girls basketball team, individually and in groups, and were even doing so up until mid-day of Thursday December 8th, 2011.

What made speaking to every member of the team a little more difficult was the fact that students were only in school one-half
day on Wednesday December 7th, 2011 because of staff development.

The information members of the Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity Basketball team eventually shared with administrators was incredibly inappropriate, insensitive, and absolutely unacceptable.

District administrators were told members of the team would collectively chant a one-sentence, racially insensitive cheer in the privacy of their locker room prior to games.

Information gathered from students lead administrators to believe that students waited for adults to leave the room during the very brief, pregame, team meeting. It is believed that coaches, staff, fans, or anyone outside of the Kenmore East High School Girls Varsity basketball team never heard the private chant, which according to some athletes predates this school year.

It is the District’s understanding that the reason why “Student A” as engaged in a physical altercation with her teammate is because of her extreme displeasure and discomfort with the private team chant.

Superintendent Mondanaro has met with “Student A”, shared his concern, frustration, and disappointment with the inappropriate and insensitive acts of others, and shared with her the swift, immediate, and firm action he is taking in light of this very serious incident.

• All Kenmore East High School Varsity Girls basketball team practices have been suspended through the rest of this week.

• Saturday’s scheduled game against Olean has been postponed.

• The related team field trip to Saint Bonaventure University has been cancelled.

• The student athletes will all serve a one-game suspension by the end of the season, at a game to be determined at a later date.

• Superintendent Mondanaro is voluntarily rescinding last year’s Niagara Frontier League’s Sportsmanship Award for the entire school.

• The students who engaged in the insensitive and unfortunate chant will receive a two-day, out of school suspension.

• The student athletes will be required to partake in cultural sensitivity training, which at this time is being arranged through an outside agency.

Superintendent Mondanaro empathizes and understands the sensitive reasons why “Student A” engaged in a physical altercation with a teammate. However, the Student Code of Conduct is
clear: students must face disciplinary action for physically striking another student.

District administrators always encourage all students to report any inappropriate activities to teachers, administrators, or staff.

The insensitive chant is absolutely unacceptable, insensitive, and not representative of the diverse student body within the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District.

The District takes great pride in its efforts to create a culture where diversity is appreciated and respected. The District’s recent anti-bullying summit allowed students, parents, and staff to come up with
constructive ways to continue fostering a welcoming environment in and out of the classroom.

The two “World Café” anti-bullying summits held on April 6th, 2011 and November 9th, 2011 put students, teachers, administrators, and the Superintendent in numerous conferences to develop strategies to strengthen diversity and to create an environment where all students feel comfortable.

This type of insensitivity to one of our students is wrong, unacceptable, unfortunate, and will never, ever be tolerated.