PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The WPIAL has released its decision regarding alleged racial slurs used during a boys’ soccer match between Penn Hills and Connellsville high schools.
Earlier this month, Penn Hills postponed all sporting events between their student athletes and Connellsville. Penn Hills officials complained that some of their players heard racial slurs while playing in an away game. Connellsville officials have denied it.
Representatives from both schools testified before the WPIAL board this week.
“Each school district made a presentation, Penn Hills first, probably presented about 10 witnesses, they came in one at a time. Connellsville followed up with their presentation, with approximately the same number of witnesses, 10 or 12,” WPIAL Executive Director Tim O’Malley said.
The WPIAL hearing board said it “was unable to determine with certainty” if racial slurs were or were not directed at Penn Hills players, but they did determine this.
However, they did find the allegations from Penn Hills were “reasonably credible” and “believes it is likely that at least some racial slurs or racially-insensitive comments were directed to a Penn Hills player or players.”
“The board felt there were some comments made inappropriately during the course of action that were isolated, not necessarily a reflection of the Connellsville School District, the boys’ soccer team or coaching staff. It certainly occurred, and that type of behavior is unacceptable,” said O’Malley.
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Penn Hills School Board President Erin Vecchio said, “First, I would like to thank the WPIAL for at least acknowledging that our kids told the truth, because our kids were called liars.”
WPIAL is requiring the Connellsville School District to take part in racial sensitivity training, something the WPIAL says district officials had already volunteered to do after the accusations.
“They will in-service their coaching staffs, the student athletes on their teams, and the student body in expecting the appropriate behavior at sporting events, and they are going to solicit consultation from outside the district to assist in doing that,” O’Malley said.
Vecchio is pleased with the training, but says this runs much deeper.
“Woodland Hills has turned them in before, several other districts have turned them in, Connellsville, before. There is a pattern here, someone needs to acknowledge there is a pattern and quit hiding it, fix the problem,” she said.
Neither superintendent from Connellsville nor Penn Hills would appear on camera, but both sent statements saying they approve the WPIAL findings.
All games not played by the two teams will be made up.