FAIRVIEW PARK - Taunting by some Fairview High School students at Friday's home boys basketball game against Oberlin High School led to high emotions and a storm of social media criticism. But Fairview City Schools Superintendent Bill Wagner said he was unable to substantiate reports of racial insults made by students.
“I think our student section may have gotten a little over-excited,” said Wagner, who spent the weekend and Monday looking into the incident.
Two Fairview students made a sign alluding to an Oberlin player's reported legal problems, Wagner said. School administrators confiscated that sign and the students have been disciplined, he said.
The student section began a chant noting the absence of a star Oberlin player who had been instrumental in defeating Fairview earlier in the season, Wagner said. This reportedly upset the Oberlin cheerleading squad, which left the gymnasium in the second half, he said.
Social media accounts, which West Life was unable to verify, said Oberlin cheerleaders also were the target of insults by Fairview students.
School administrators were at the game and would not have tolerated any of the racial insults alleged on social media to have taken place, Wagner said. At one point in the game, which Fairview won 73-52, Fairview Athletic Director Joe Dianetti had to escort away two Oberlin students who had gone into the Fairview student section pushing and throwing punches, Wagner added.
Fairview's varsity basketball team and cheerleading squad both have African American members, and African American students were in the cheering section, Wagner said. He believes the perception that emerged on some social media accounts of shouted racial insults is not accurate. However, he said disciplinary action will be taken if any inappropriate behavior is substantiated.
Videos taken said to show racial taunts by Fairview students have not emerged, Wagner said.
Wagner said he spoke to students Monday, telling them they are to limit their cheers to cheers for Fairview, not against the opponent or referees.
Wagner said he spoke with Oberlin Superintendent David H. Hall Saturday about the game and later exchanged emails.
“I hope the Oberlin community will be assured Fairview Park will be a welcoming place for their teams and families,” Wagner said.
In a letter to the Oberlin community posted on that district's website Monday, Hall said school officials were investigating what took place at Friday's game.
“We would like our community to know that when a visiting district facilitates a sporting event, it is the responsibility of the home team to work with the visiting teams administration to establish appropriate conduct and safety boundaries for players, staff and fans,” Hall wrote. “Oberlin City Schools and Fairview Park is currently reviewing all information to assure this cooperation was extended to our district. Oberlin City Schools do not accept any inappropriate behavior directed towards or involving our students.”
Hall did not respond to West Life's phone call and email for comment by press time.