JAMESTOWN, Pa. – An incident that occurred during the Farrell at Jamestown volleyball game Thursday was addressed by both schools Friday.
Farrell Superintendent Dr. Lora Adams-King released a statement saying actions taken by select Jamestown students were “racial” in nature, while Jamestown superintendent 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.”
The incident, shown in videos circulating on Facebook (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) shows a few Jamestown students wearing red bonnets or sleeping caps. 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
“To say that I am appalled by the racial actions displayed against our students at last night’s girls’ volleyball game is a gross understatement,” Adams-King said in a statement to Bob Greenburg of Sports Radio 96.7 FM Friday morning. “As the Superintendent of the Farrell Area School District, I am also extremely hurt for our students. They are amazing young ladies and young men who don’t deserve this type of 1723 treatment in 2023. It wasn’t right then and it certainly isn’t right in this day and time. The Farrell Area School District is tired of the unconscionable, constant racial actions displayed against our students based upon their ethnicity, cultural background, and zip code. This issue is further exacerbated by the failure of the powers that be to (properly) address these actions. This type of behavior is not OK, we are tired of it, and we will act accordingly.”
In Reiser’s statement, sent to Greenburg, District 10, and Farrell, Jamestown saw the incident in a bit of a different light.
“During the game, it was alleged that four Jamestown students engaged in racist behavior by wearing sleep caps to go along with the evening’s theme of ‘pajama night’,” the statement said. “The Jamestown Area School District takes allegations of racially motivated inappropriate behavior very seriously. The Jamestown Area School District administration immediately conducted a thorough investigation of these allegations and have concluded that the students involved had no intentional or malicious intent to communicate a racially inappropriate message or stereotype with the wearing of their particular ‘pajama outfits.’ While the Jamestown administration understands in hindsight, why a component of the pajama outfits worn by these four students was interpreted to be racially motivated, the administrators who participated in the investigation genuinely believe these students did not intend to send a racially motivated message to the Farrell students.
“Nonetheless, the Jamestown Area School District offers a sincere apology if any Farrell athlete, staff member or spectator felt uncomfortable or unwelcome in our facility. That was certainly not our intention and was an unfortunate outcome of the ‘pajama night’ theme.”
Reiser, in the statement, said that in an effort to “ensure that this type of this situation doesn’t occur again”, the school district will conduct an assembly with all high school students where the administration will lead a discussion of what occurred at the event and “how and why the actions of these students were interpreted to be racially inappropriate by the Farrell students.”
See the complete statements below from both superintendents
DR. LORA ADMS-KING, FARRELL SUPERINTENDENT
JAMESTOWN SUPERINTENDENT TRACY REISER