School Officials Respond to Claims of Anti-Semitism, Racism at Cheshire Football Game

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School administrators are responding after several people reported anti-Semitic and racist comments directed towards Westport players and students during the Staples/Cheshire High School football game.

Westport school officials said they were made aware of a number of social media posts last night.

"I want to assure the community that any allegations such as these are taken with the utmost seriousness," Westport Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice said in a statement.

Cheshire Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey F. Solan said there was a complaint made to town officials that Cheshire High School students were waving an Israeli flag. An administrator was informed that Westport students felt this was an effort to insult their religion and the administrator immediately directed the students to put the flag away, according to Solan.

"The Cheshire High School students holding the blue and white flag who were themselves in fact Jewish, were doing so as part of a red, white, and blue theme the student section was celebrating that night. Those Cheshire students were actually confused and concerned that they were directed to put the flag of their heritage away without any understanding of why," Solan said in a statement.

Scarice said the school district has called Westport police and they're investigating the incident with Cheshire police.

"This incident was brought to light by some damning images and posts on social media. Given the volatility of social media, I caution all members of the community to take a measured approach in addressing matters such as these. It is necessary for the school administrations, and police departments when necessary, to gather facts before taking punitive action. If we confirm acts of anti-Semitism or race-based hate, we will assertively act. If there are misunderstandings, we will work together to learn from these events," Scarice said.

School officials said they've received support from the Director of the Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League.

The superintendent of Cheshire schools said the allegations are the result of a "significant misunderstanding coupled with the fuel of social media."

"Our students are not guilty of the things for which they were accused," said Solan.

"We are all committed to cooperating, investigating, and addressing this matter," said Scarice.

Solan said there have also been allegations made about the presence about a Confederate flag being waved and insulting chants. He said that the investigation has not yet proven that this has occurred.

"It is deeply concerning that America is experiencing a period of elevated anti-Semetic acts. The Cheshire Public Schools is deeply opposed to any expression of hate and remains committed to aggressively addressing such behavior," Solan said.

Westport school officials said they'll continue its investigation and provide more information in the coming days.

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