After racist photo by students, NJ school agrees to game delays
A racist photo that appears to mock the police killing of George Floyd has sparked a month's delay for at least two athletic games between rival high schools in Central Jersey, while also shifting one of the matches away from the field of the school whose students were implicated.
Hunterdon Central Regional High School District spokeswoman Nancy Tucker previously confirmed to New Jersey 101.5 that the photo was taken by Hunterdon Central students, though not at the school or while school was in session.
In a statement issued to New Jersey 101.5, schools Superintendent John A. Ravally of the Franklin district in Somerset County said, "Like so many others, I am appalled at the photo that was posted on social media. I understand that Hunterdon Central is investigating the matter and will deal with this issue in their district."
During public comments last week at a Franklin Board of Education meeting, a member of the public voiced concern about that same racist photo and asked the board how Franklin students could feel comfortable when competing against sports teams from Hunterdon Central.
Ravally said the only athletic games on Franklin's schedule against Hunterdon Central this fall season were two soccer games, both of which were rescheduled from Oct. 2 to Nov. 10. In addition, the girls' game has been moved from Hunterdon Central to Franklin's field, the superintendent confirmed.
The changes "mutually agreed upon by the coaches and Athletic Directors of both districts," Ravally said, "will give Hunterdon Central time to conduct their investigation and, we believe, will lessen the concerns expressed by the families of some of our athletes."
Ravally gave no specific details as to the concerns raised.
“Hunterdon Central’s student athletes and coaches join our entire school in condemnation of all acts of racism, and believe that athletics is one of the best ways for communities to build bridges," Hunterdon Central Regional Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Moore said in a separate written statement given to New Jersey 101.5 on Monday. "We remain in contact with Franklin High School, with hopes that our students can step onto the field together this season.”
The photo attributed to Hunterdon Central students and posted to social media last month shows a white and shirtless teenager wearing a police badge on a chain and President Donald Trump's campaign trademark "Make America Great Again" red hat, while kneeling on the neck of another teenager wearing a monkey mask.
The photo, as shared by NJ.com, is captioned, "Central kids man."
Roughly two years ago, the same two schools dealt with reported racial tensions during a 2018 boys basketball game played at Hunterdon Central in Flemington, according to the Franklin Reporter & Advocate.
In that case, witnesses reported some Hunterdon Central fans were heard making what was described as “monkey noises” when Franklin players took foul shots. The incident was reported to the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association and Ravally personally reached out to Moore, according to the same report.
Based on education data for the 2018-2019 school year, out of 2,129 students at Franklin High School, 39.9% were Black or African American, 11.8% were white, 32.5% were Hispanic or Latino and 14.4% were Asian.
Data from the same school year showed that of Hunterdon Central Regional High School's 2,743 students enrolled, 78.9% were white, 10.3% were Hispanic or Latino, 6.3% were Asian and 2.9% were Black or African American.
Hunterdon Central Regional High School serves the five municipalities of Delaware Township, East Amwell, Flemington, Raritan Township and Readington.
A question about specific concerns raised by Franklin High School community members after the photo was made public was not answered as of Tuesday.
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