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Carroll County Public Schools investigating allegations of racial slurs being used in boys lacrosse game

Carroll County Public Schools officials have launched an investigation into allegations that Francis Scott Key High School boys lacrosse players directed racial slurs at a Manchester Valley player during their game Monday.

Schools Superintendent Steven Lockard said he and administrators from both schools are involved in the investigation, along with supervisor of athletics Michael Duffy and director of high schools Eric King.

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Lockard said the situation “saddens and infuriates me at the same time. No one should be subjected to that.

“We often say we’re not going to tolerate this … We shouldn’t have to at all,” Lockard said. “It needs to stop permanently.”

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Lockard said he’s going to speak about the issue at Wednesday evening’s Board of Education meeting, and students will be reminded that playing on a school sports team is a privilege. If someone is seen or heard using that kind of language, they are “going to lose that privilege,” he said.

He said any in-school or out-of-school punishment resulting from the investigation will have to be worked out with the principals. He said the schools will follow due process during the investigation.

”I’m tired of saying it’s not going to be tolerated. It’s not,” Lockard said. “But we shouldn’t have to keep saying it. It’s got to stop.”

Lockard and Duffy both referred to a social media post attributed to a player on the Manchester Valley team.

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The player’s Instagram post stated he felt “uncomfortable and targeted the whole game.” The post was later shared on the Instagram page of Blaxers Blog, which aims to recognize the minority lacrosse experience.

The Carroll County Times is not naming the player associated with the post because he is a minor reporting accusations of racism.

“Every time I made a good play someone would call me the N word,” the post reads.

The post said most Francis Scott Key players displayed good sportsmanship during the game, but a few of them “continuously threw racial slurs at me.”

“I’m sharing this because I’m sadly not the only athlete that receives racism in the Carroll County school system,” the post reads. “… I just want to play lacrosse.”

Lockard and Duffy both commended the player for speaking out.

Duffy said Carroll County’s coaches practice inclusiveness and acceptance, and he denounced racial insensitivity of any kind “on behalf of every team, and I know every coach will stand by me on that, and every [athletic director]. It’s embarrassing for us, but I can’t imagine … it bothers me for the pain that a student would feel in such a situation more than it embarrasses me.

“We as a school system are committed to having inclusive opportunities for our students, and for our students who are participating in all extracurricular activities,” Duffy said. “Any incident like this, it’s a horrible mark on our school system. It pains me that any one of our students could be in a situation to feel marginalized. That’s not what we’re about.”

Francis Scott Key defeated Manchester Valley 13-12 in overtime for the Eagles’ first win against a Carroll County opponent since 2011, according to Key coach John Fitzgerald when he submitted the result and game highlights to the Times on Monday night.

Emails on Tuesday to Fitzgerald and Manchester Valley coach John Piper seeking comment were not answered, along with phone calls and emails to Francis Scott Key Principal Shannon Mobley and Manchester Valley Principal Joseph Guerra.

Tara Battaglia, a member of the Carroll County Board of Education who has children who attend Manchester Valley, said Tuesday afternoon she didn’t know anything about the incident but said “things need to be investigated before it gets out of hand.”

Battaglia added that if it is true, she feels horrible for the student and any derogatory language should not be tolerated. She said she thinks there needs to be conversations in the high schools so “students understand no matter what color you are, your gender, that hurtful words … have hurt behind them to a person that’s on the receiving end. Whether you think it’s a joke or not.

“We as a society needs to come together to combat that.”

Carroll County Times reporter Kristen Griffith contributed to this article.

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