FARRELL, Pa. – Facing what it describes as a “racial climate” and “hate speech” directed toward its student-athletes, the Farrell School District elected to postpone its volleyball match at Rocky Grove Tuesday.
“The Farrell High School girl’s volleyball game against Rocky Grove High School (at Rocky Grove) scheduled for this evening (Oct. 3, 2023) has been postponed,” a post on the Farrell Athletics Facebook page read. “This decision is based upon the current racial climate and hate speech directed toward the Farrell Area School District and our student-athletes. While the game will be held in the very near future at a date to be determined, we feel that in an attempt to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, it is best that this evening’s contest be postponed.”
The postponement comes on the heels of an incident that took place at Jamestown on Thursday, Sept. 28, when Farrell traveled to Jamestown for a volleyball match.
The incident in question involved a few Jamestown students wearing red bonnets or sleeping caps at the Sept. 28 volleyball match (see this link to Ken Moyer’s Facebook page – note that there may be language written on the video that is inappropriate for certain age levels). Many historians have pointed out that head-wraps were worn by enslaved women and were seen by their white European masters as a sign of poverty and subordination, according to PBS New York.
Following the incident, Farrell superintendent Dr. Lora Adams-King released a statement calling the actions of those students “racial” in nature.
Her Jamestown counterpart, Tracy Reiser released a statement offering apologies to the Farrell community while at the same time stating that district administrators conducted “a thorough investigation and concluded that the students had no intentional or malicious intent.”
That statement and investigation weren’t enough to satisfy Farrell, who will now ask the PIAA to look into the matter. Bob Greenburg of Sports Radio 96.7 FM reported that the PIAA District 10 committee will discuss the matter at its Wednesday, Oct. 4, meeting after Adams-King asked that it be looked into.
“While we acknowledge Jamestown School District’s response and purported investigation into the incident occurring at a girls’ varsity volleyball match, we feel that it is in the best interests of our student-athletes to move forward with filing a formal complaint with the governing bodies to ensure that a complete and unbiased investigation is done,” Adams-King said. “We simply cannot stand by and allow for such flagrant conduct to be excused as unintentional.”
In addition to the volleyball game being postponed, a junior high football game vs. Lakeview was canceled and forfeited by Lakeview following an alleged undisclosed social media post by a Lakeview player.
The Lakeview Sports Board Facebook page, which is the unofficial Facebook page of Lakeview Athletics, shared a statement from Lakeview concerning that incident.
“The Lakeview School District is deeply troubled and saddened to address a recent incident in which an inappropriate and racist video was posted by a student,” the post read. “We take this matter extremely seriously and are committed to fostering a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment for all members of our community.
“The video in question came to our attention on Oct. 3, 2023, and we immediately launched an investigation to ascertain the facts and determine the appropriate actions to be taken. Our primary concern is to ensure the well-being of our students and maintain a campus environment that is free from discrimination, racism, and harassment.
We want to make it unequivocally clear that we do not condone, support, or tolerate any form of racism, discrimination, or hate speech within our school district. Such actions are not only a violation of our code of conduct but also run counter to our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“We understand that this incident has deeply affected our school community as well as that of the Farrell Area School District, and we are committed to healing and learning from it. We sincerely apologize to the students, staff, administration and community of the Farrell School District. We will continue to work diligently to create an environment where every member feels valued and respected.
“We encourage all members of our community to report any incidents of racism, discrimination, or harassment promptly. Your voice and input are crucial in helping us maintain a safe and inclusive learning environment.
We remain dedicated to our mission of providing a quality education while fostering an atmosphere of respect, understanding, and empathy for all. Together, we can build a stronger and more inclusive school community.”