ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — New Prague is coming under fire yet again for more accusations of racism.
New Prague schools have been in the spotlight for several weeks now, after several other districts called them out for racism at sporting events.READ MORE: Community Members Demand Change Amid Accusations Of Racism In New Prague Area Schools
On Wednesday night, students in the New Prague fan section of the state high school hockey tournament flashed a known white supremacy hand symbol. They did it right behind the coach’s back, and it was caught on TV.
In a statement, New Prague Superintendent Tim Dittberner said it was two upper elementary students, and that they were making the “OK” symbol. He did acknowledge that the symbol can also be used to signify white supremacy, but went on to say that the students didn’t understand what the symbol actually meant.
“While we know this is very upsetting to many, please be assured we feel confident that the students were not intending to send a message of white supremacy when they made the gesture,” Dittberner said.READ MORE: Robbinsdale Schools, St. Louis Park H.S. Won't Compete Against New Prague Over Incidents Of Alleged Racism
Dittberner said the kids were mimicking something they saw at an earlier hockey game, and that they have no reason to believe the students knew it carried racist connotations.
The Minnesota State High School League addressed the gestures, saying officials “immediately contacted New Prague school administration who were onsite and promptly identified the upper elementary students responsible for the gestures.”
“The students were unaware of this meaning. New Prague took action to appropriately address this behavior with the students,” MSHSL said. “The MSHSL condemns all actions that are intended to cause racial harm in any way and continues to work directly with member schools to best represent the mission and beliefs of the MSHSL.”
Since the first racist allegations came to light, some districts are now refusing to play against New Prague.
School leaders in the New Prague district say they’ve been holding listening sessions, and working to make changes.