NEW PRAGUE, Minn. (WCCO) — The superintendent of New Prague Area Schools says allegations of a racist chant at a girls basketball game last month “could not be substantiated” by the school’s investigation.
Robbinsdale Area Schools released a statement after the Feb. 15 game between Cooper High School and New Prague, saying “according to several accounts, some spectators made monkey sounds directed at the Cooper team.” Many of the Cooper players are Black.READ MORE: New Prague Again Accused Of Racism At State Hockey Tournament
In a message to families, New Prague Superintendent Tim Dittberner said while the investigation found the allegations of the racist chant “could not be substantiated … the findings of this investigation neither negate the lived experiences of Robbinsdale-Cooper student-athletes and staff, nor does it absolve New Prague Area Schools of its responsibility to create a culture that does not tolerate inappropriate behavior.”
Dittberner said a “repeated, low-pitched noise” could be heard on video of the game, but what the noise is or who made it could not be determined.
He said about 20 people who were at the game were interviewed, and none reported hearing monkey noises. Only one person from Robbinsdale Area Schools was interviewed, Dittberner said.
The superintendent also said no one reported hearing monkey noises on the night of the game, and the district only learned of the allegation via social media after the fact.READ MORE: Community Members Demand Change Amid Accusations Of Racism In New Prague Area Schools
Still, Dittberner reiterated a three-step plan “to address the school culture so these incidents do not happen in the future.” That plan includes creating a school climate task force, professional development and resources for staff and working with student leaders.
“As I have stated previously, the findings of this investigation do not take away from the other incidents that have happened at the high school,” Dittberner said. “Derogatory comments, including racial slurs, and racist conduct are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
A statement was released from Robbinsdale Area Schools Monday afternoon, following New Prague’s update, in which school officials said their district will not compete “in any athletic events against New Prague for the foreseeable future.”
On the same day as the Cooper game, St. Louis Park High School Athletic Director Andrew Ewald said his boys hockey team was subjected to a “racist experience” while playing at New Prague. Both St. Louis Park High School and Robbinsdale Area Schools said they would suspend competition with New Prague.MORE NEWS: Robbinsdale Schools, St. Louis Park H.S. Won't Compete Against New Prague Over Incidents Of Alleged Racism
Last week, during the state boys hockey tournament, New Prague students flashed a known white supremacist hand symbol, which was caught by broadcast cameras. The district and the Minnesota State High School League said the students were unaware of the connotation of the signal.