Investigation into alleged racism at New Prague HS complete

Superintendent Tim Dittberner said complaints of racist acts committed by athletes and coaches at Robbinsdale Cooper could not be substantiated.

NEW PRAGUE, Minn. — An investigation into alleged acts of racism by New Prague basketball fans found those complaints could not be substantiated, according to a report sent Monday by the Superintendent of Schools.

The message sent to New Prague students, family and staff by Superintendent Tim Dittberner detailed the findings of the investigation, which followed allegations made by student-athletes, coaches and fans of the team. Robbinsdale Cooper college basketball court. Social media posts accused New Prague fans, both students and adults, of making monkey noises during and after the contest.

Dittberner said those conducting the investigation spoke with about 20 people present during the game, including New Prague students, district parents and district employees. The superintendent reports that none of the people interviewed said they heard monkey noises. A person from the Robbinsdale School District was also interviewed.

Among the findings of the survey:

  • Although a repeated, low-pitched noise is audible for approximately 10 seconds on the gameplay video, the source of the noise could not be determined.
  • The identity of the individual who made the noise could not be determined, although it appears to have been made by a single person.
  • Allegations that a New Prague fan shouted “monkey” as a player from the opposing team took a free throw have not been substantiated. Investigators say the word shouted during that particular free throw was “Nike”, the name of the play called out by the New Prague coach which was to be performed after the free throw.
  • On the night of the match, no one – including the opposing team’s coaches, fans and players, and match officials – reported hearing monkey noises in the district. The report says district officials only learned of the allegations through a social media post after the game ended.

Robbinsdale Public Schools responded Monday afternoon, saying the district was “disappointed but not surprised” with the outcome of the investigation, adding that they believe the Cooper student-athletes and coaches behind the allegations.

“We have shared with New Prague officials what happened during this game. We have also refused to subject our student-athletes and other staff to questioning by their investigators – a process that would have forced students and staff to relive their traumatic experience,” read a statement. Robbinsdale Superintendent David Engstrom. “The New Prague Area Schools have rejected the experiences of our students and staff as visitors to their district. The Robbinsdale Area Schools continue to support, support and believe in our student athletes. We are proud of how they behaved amidst this display of ignorance.”

Engstrom says regardless of the findings of the investigation, all schools in the Robbinsdale area, including Cooper High School, will not participate in any sporting events against New Prague for the foreseeable future.

While today’s New Prague report does not substantiate the allegations, Superintendent Dittberner stresses that the findings “do not negate the lived experiences of Robbinsdale-Cooper student-athletes and staff, nor exonerate the schools of the New Prague area of ​​their responsibility to create a culture that does not tolerate inappropriate behavior.”

Dittberner added that the findings of the investigation do not take away from other incidents that have occurred recently at the high school. Similar allegations were made about comments made by New Prague players during a men’s hockey game by their St. Louis Park opponents. The district also filed complaints about a group of New Prague students who allegedly made racist hand gestures while attending the state hockey tournament.

“Derogatory comments, including racial slurs, and racist behavior are unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Dittberger said in his statement, reiterating a three-point plan he presented at a school board meeting. end of February. He understands:

  • Create a school climate task force to assess the needs of the district that will provide an inclusive environment for all students.
  • Provide professional development and resources to staff to implement best practices to eliminate harmful behaviors.
  • Work with student leaders to educate them about appropriate conduct, bullying, race, and other issues.

The Superintendent apologized for any harm caused to Robbinsdale Cooper student-athletes, their families and their communities.

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Berta D. Wells