A Statement from Superintendent Dr. Bill Wagner regarding the January 26, 2018 Boys Varsity Basketball Game
Our administrative team has spent the entire weekend and, the better part of this week, researching the events of last Friday’s varsity boys basketball game against Oberlin High School. There have been many allegations made regarding the conduct of our students, fans, and administration, including the shouting of racial slurs. In response, we have reviewed our game video, requested pictures and video from those in attendance, and have interviewed students, staff, parents, community members and police who were present last Friday night.
I spoke with Dr. Hall on Saturday, January 27 and asked that he also send us any evidence he and his administrative team were able to acquire and confirm. At this time, I have not received any additional information from him.
Fairview had two cheerleaders, two basketball players, a handful of the students in the cheering section, and a staff member who was sitting next to our students who are all African American. We asked all of them if they heard anything that would be offensive, racist or threatening. They all indicated they did not. In conversations with the Fairview High School principal and athletic director, John Carter, Oberlin Athletic Director, also stated that he did not hear such comments.
The only video evidence we have at this time is the game footage which shows two Oberlin female fans entering the Fairview High School student section and pushing and physically assaulting students in our cheering section. We will continue to review any and all data we acquire to help accurately clarify what happened at the game.
The Fairview Schools acknowledged immediately that two students in our student cheering section made two impromptu, hand-written signs that were absolutely unacceptable. However, the comments were not racially motivated or related, as is being depicted on social media. The signs were quickly confiscated and the students were reprimanded. Photos of those signs were shared with Dr. Hall.
A chant, “Where is Justin?” was also made two times by members of the FHS student cheering section referring to an Oberlin basketball player who scored over 20 points in the first game between the two teams. The chant was unsportsmanlike, but certainly not racist, as is being alleged. The students who led the chant informed administration they assumed the Oberlin player was ineligible. When they learned otherwise, they were embarrassed and remorseful.
As a district, we are concerned by and have shared with Dr. Hall that there was considerable profanity and escalating actions made by the Oberlin cheerleaders, cheer coach and AD that contributed to the escalating tensions during the game. Dr. Hall has indicated that specific steps are being taken to prevent such actions from recurring. We are doing the same.
Moving forward, we will ensure the elimination of any and all inappropriate activity that may exist in our cheering sections (all seasons-all sports) and strongly enforce a “cheer for our team and not against the other team or referees” primary rule.
We have used this situation to engage our students in discussions about the impact of one’s conduct, the power of words, the volatility of social media and the delicate balance between perception and reality. We continue our commitment to take immediate disciplinary and corrective action in response to any substantiated misconduct.
We wish to extend to the community of Oberlin our sincere commitment and assurance that Fairview Park will continue to be a safe and welcoming place for your students, athletes, families and fans.