Riverhead officials take action following incident involving racial slurs at football game

The incident happened on Sept. 9 at the football field of Pulaski Street Elementary School.

Caroline Flynn, Krista McNally and Thema Ponton

Sep 18, 2023, 10:23 AM

Updated 208 days ago

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The Riverhead School District said students who allegedly used racial slurs against attendees of a football game will receive further disciplinary action.
The incident happened on Sept. 9 at the football field of Pulaski Street Elementary School. According to Superintendent Dr. Augustine E. Tornatore, a middle school and high school student pushed two young children and used a racial slur against their mother.
Their relative, Robert Brown, spoke to the Riverhead School Board at a Sept. 12 meeting about the incident saying, "I'm 83 years old, and shouldn't have to deal with this crap. I grew up with this stuff. I heard the N-word every day in school and I'm tired of it."
Brown sat down with News 12 on Monday. He said he was subjected to multiple attacks while he was growing up because of the color of his skin.
"The thing of it is – it never leaves you," he said.
Hearing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren suffered at the football game rocked him to his core.
"That N-word is probably the worst word that I could think of. It's just -- horrible," Brown said.
School board member Virginia Healy told fellow members that she was at the game and could hear the incident unfold from the bleachers.
"We were all appalled by that, we stand with your family, and everybody heard it and it was not acceptable," she told Brown.
The students are banned from future football games. Principals at their respective schools are investigating and reviewing footage from the game.
Brown said when it comes to additional punishments they could receive, he hopes it doesn't lead to more hate.
"I would like for them to get something positive out of this. I would not want to destroy a kid's life," said Brown.
Residents pleaded with members of Riverhead's Anti-Bias Task Force on Monday to take further action regarding the incident.
"My children do not feel safe," says Tiffany Beck, of Riverhead. "I do not feel comfortable with my children in the school, especially with security being as lax as it is."
Ryan Scott, of Riverhead, says she is pushing for more than just disciplinary action from the district and is planning to take legal action.
The Anti-Bias Task Force for the Town of Riverhead says they have heard the messages and will recommend the district make changes, including sensitivity training or a circle of healing to bring children together.
Administrators plan to meet with the Riverhead Town Anti-Bias Task Force regarding the incident on an undisclosed date.


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