Greece Central School District: ‘We believe our students’ following claims of racist taunts at soccer games
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Greece Central School District is backing claims by student-athletes, of racist taunts at two recent high school soccer games.
It comes after Pittsford schools released its own statement, saying the allegations were "unfounded."
We first told you about this story last week, as players from Greece Arcadia claimed they were subjected to racial slurs at both the Pittsford Mendon boys and girls soccer games.
In a statement to News10NBC, a district spokesperson says they’ve interviewed dozens of players, staff, and coaches – as well as families – and also reviewed game film and audio. The district says their investigation supports the claims made.
"We believe our students and will stand by them and their families," the statement read.
The claims were part of the reason for a protest held at Pittsford Town Hall Sunday, as well as a video that a Pittsford Sutherland student posted wielding what looks like a handgun and saying he carries it to kill what sounds like the N-word before the video cuts out that the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigated, finding no real threat.
"We are proud of our students and we remain committed to ensuring that Greece Central is a welcoming and affirming space for all," the statement concluded.
Pittsford is standing by its previous statement, saying no evidence of racist remarks was found.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Pero said evidence does not support the serious allegations. Pero said the review included interviews with students, site supervisors, coaches, players and officials — as well as analysis of game audio and video recordings.
Here’s a portion of his letter to Pittsford families and staff:
With respect to the Tuesday, Sept. 28 boys soccer game against Greece Arcadia, the investigation showed that the Mendon student fan section was loud at times and that some fans called out a Greece player by name.
However, the findings clearly indicate that the students’ behavior — while disruptive — was not racial in nature or racially motivated. The game film also shows that the Mendon student fan behavior occurred in response to taunting by the Greece Arcadia players toward them at multiple times throughout the event.
With respect to the Wednesday, Sept. 29 girls soccer game against Greece Arcadia, Pittsford CSD conducted multiple witness interviews to gather their accounts. District officials also completed a thorough review of the game film. Evidence from our investigation does not support the serious allegation that one of our players used a racial slur.
Click here to read the full letter.
News10NBC reached out to the families involved. They did not want to go on camera. However, family members of one of the players involved did tell us they were served a cease and desist letter from an attorney representing the family of the girl accused of saying the slur. According to that letter, the family vehemently denies the allegations.
We asked to talk to both Greece and Pittsford school district leaders. Both declined. We have also requested access to their investigations through a freedom of information request.