A student spectator at a John F. Kennedy High School girls volleyball game in Bellmore Wednesday “verbally taunted with a racial slur” the Elmont team, prompting school leaders in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School district to apologize Thursday.
Elmont Memorial High School Athletic Director Kru Patel said in a note to parents of the junior varsity volleyball team that “unfortunately there was a racial incident … at the Bellmore-JFK game” Wednesday.
“Our team was verbally taunted with a racial slur,” Patel wrote. The student was removed from the game and a “full investigation is underway,” Patel wrote.
Elmont Memorial is part of the Sewanhaka Central High School district and district officials confirmed that the one student who yelled the inappropriate phrase was identified and removed from the gym along with other students sitting with him.
Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Superintendent Michael Harrington wrote to the community Thursday that “an unfortunate and unacceptable act of behavior” took place during the Wednesday afternoon junior varsity volleyball game in Bellmore.
“As you know, the Bellmore-Merrick CHSD does not tolerate any type of insensitive or hurtful behavior. Such behavior is not reflective of who we are as a school community,” he wrote.
He said that as soon as the comments were brought to the attention of supervisors and coaching staff, the game was stopped and the spectator removed.
Harrington said the district has contacted school officials at Elmont Memorial to apologize and extended “apologies to the entire Elmont community as well. We deeply regret the hurt and harm that this incident caused the Elmont community and members of our own BMCHSD community.”
The district cannot comment on individual student disciplinary matters, but Harrington did say that the student will be disciplined.
Lynette Battle, president of the Elmont Memorial Parent Teacher Student Association, said Thursday that both schools took action right away after the incident.
“Both schools acted appropriately in how they handled the situation. … it was handled in the moment,” she said.
According to state records, Elmont Memorial is about 66% Black and 18% Latino. John F. Kennedy School’s student body is about 83% white.
In 2021, Bellmore-Merrick school officials apologized to the Elmont school and community after a student spectator at Mepham High School made "inappropriate, racist gestures" at a junior varsity basketball game.