Haddonfield High School boys' lacrosse season cancelled amid racial incident investigation

HADDONFIELD, N.J. (WPVI) -- The remainder of the Haddonfield Memorial High School boys' lacrosse season has been canceled amid an investigation into an alleged racial incident.

It's a move that was being applauded Friday night by civil rights activists, as the controversy reverberates through Haddonfield and beyond.

"I hate to say, it would not have been a surprise if I heard it from other townships. But Haddonfield is an elite school system in South Jersey.... To hear it from that level was shocking," said Lloyd Henderson of the Camden County NAACP.

The alleged incident happened during a track meet last week at Haddonfield.

A member of the boys' lacrosse team, who was in a group with some of his teammates, allegedly used the N-word and told a black female track athlete from Sterling High in Somerdale to get off his school's track.

Cydney Thomas told Action News she witnessed the incident.

"The girl was very upset," she said. "The Sterling girl that was called the N-word was very upset at the time. She started crying, along with another one of her teammates. It was very upsetting."

After details of the alleged incident emerged, the interim superintendent announced the remainder of the boys' lacrosse season would be canceled, effective immediately.

School officials have reached out to the local chapter of the NAACP and other professionals.

Diversity, sensitivity and empathy training will be conducted for all students, staff and coaches, and additional procedures and requirements for all sports teams are being drafted.

The NAACP's Henderson said he is encouraged by these steps.

"Haddonfield deserves a medal," he said. "And the Haddonfield administration needs to get credit for taking the steps."

Still, some students remain upset over the alleged incident. They say they are outraged that other lacrosse players who were there have refused to name the boy who allegedly made the comment.

Audrey, a freshman said, "I just wish people weren't scared to be called, like, rats - because that's what people call people who tell on people.... Someone is afraid to come forward."

Tenth grader Artie Kegan added, "Honestly, I think it's unfortunate that such an event happened like this, because their season is over. I feel that somebody should stand up - and if it was them, they should say something."

A spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General's Office says they received a referral on the matter Friday morning from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

The civil rights division is reviewing the matter to determine if it will open an investigation.

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