The Putnam Examiner

Game’s Not Over Yet: Mahopac Player to Appeal Suspension

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The investigation may have been completed and subsequent punishment handed down, but the Mahopac basketball player suspended for the remainder of the boy basketball season isn’t done fighting yet.

The father of the suspended Mahopac player told The Putnam Examiner his family plans to appeal the decision made by Mahopac administrators that excludes his son, a senior at Mahopac high school, from participating in any sports-related activities the rest of the school year. The family has even hired well-known civil rights attorney Michael Sussman to represent the family in the matter, the father said.

In a statement to The Putnam Examiner, Sussman assailed the action taken against his client by the administration.

“The incident commenced with an allegation of racial bias, one I and the family take very seriously.  Mahopac school authorities investigated that claim and did not conclude that my client uttered any such offensive statement.  My client has denied making any such statement,” Sussman said. “Despite their finding, school authorities then suspended my client for the balance of the season because they claimed that his play on the court did not reflect the values of the district.  This is a very vague formulation.  The high school coach certainly did not reprimand my client or claim that his play was contrary to the district’s values.  We do not believe this ground for suspension is sustainable. No person should be punished when they have violated no known rule or law. To allow this is to invest authorities with too much discretion and authority and to devalue the experience, which my client had with his teammates.”

According to the father, administrators told his son he would have to sit out the rest of the season and the spring sports season because of physical play against a Carmel basketball player during a Jan. 7 game. The Mahopac player had also been accused of hurling racial slurs at that same Carmel basketball player, who is black, but Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Monahan said the investigation into those racial allegations could not but substantiated.

The Mahopac player was previously suspended for the alleged physical pay while the investigation was ongoing. With less than a month to the basketball season remaining, it’s unclear if the player would see the court again regardless of the decision from the appeal, but his spring sport — golf — is still in jeopardy.

While the player has remained unnamed in respect for student privacy, a petition was previously floated online stating that the senior should be allowed to play for the basketball team, but that petition is now closed and no longer accepting electronic signatures.

“We’re ready to take this to the national media,” the suspended player’s father told The Putnam Examiner, stating no one in the district administration has supported his son despite no evidence of a racial slur being used. He believes the district is connecting the allegation of racism to the instance of physical play for which his son his suspended for.

Monahan said over email he is not able to comment on an individual matter and referred questions about the process of an appeal to the Board of Education. School board members could not be reached before press time.

Sports Editor Ray Gallagher contributed to this report.



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