The Putnam Examiner

Eight Mahopac Students Now Suspended After Tense Basketball Game

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The Mahopac school district has now suspended eight students following accusations of racist taunts and other inappropriate behavior at a Feb. 27 boys basketball game between Mahopac and Mt. Vernon high schools, Mahopac Superintendent Thomas Manko confirmed Friday afternoon.

Manko said after an internal investigation provided the necessary evidence, the district determined those students deserved a suspension. Originally, only three students were suspended, but Manko had previously stated more suspensions would be passed down, which occurred this week.

All of the suspensions are a result of Twitter activity from those students that expressed inappropriate language or racist taunts. None of the students suspended are on the basketball team, Manko said.

Manko said he doesn’t foresee any more suspensions being handed down, but couldn’t say that with complete certainty. Those students suspended would undergo sensitivity training when they return to school, Manko added.

“I can’t say we’re done,” he said. “But I think we’re close to being done.”

At a press conference at Mount Vernon district headquarters Friday afternoon, interim Superintendent Judith Johnson renewed her call to see the entire Mahopac boys basketball program suspended for a year of play for the 2014-15 season.

During the press conference, Johnson said there is Mount Vernon student testimony that alleges racism directed at the Mount Vernon team. Johnson said Mount Vernon players heard racial slurs from Mahopac players during and after the game.

“Some action needs to be taken that sends a message that this wasn’t business as usual,” Johnson said.

While pushing for a suspension, Johnson said she “had no idea” how many Mahopac players might have directed a racist taunt at Mount Vernon’s players.

Manko believes a year long suspension is excessive and said 35-40 people that attended the game were interviewed by Mahopac Athletic Director John Augusta including all three referees, workers at the scorer’s table, all the Mahopac coaches, and all of the Mahopac players.

“We’re not saying that there weren’t such statements made by our players toward their players,” Manko said. “But we can’t corroborate them. You still have to have evidence.”

Check back in Tuesday’s print edition of The Putnam Examiner for more on this story.



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