Wayland Superintendent Omar Easy informed Westford Superintendent Christopher Chew in a letter last week that Wayland Public Schools will no longer play Westford Academy for the rest of the season.
This letter came following a racist incident at a girls’ basketball game between Wayland and Westford on January 28.
“In discussion with our school and athletic administration, we have decided that, at this point, Wayland Public Schools will not be competing in any athletic events this spring against Westford Public Schools,” Easy stated in the letter.
During the game, a Wayland High School student basketball player was the target of racially charged taunting and jeering from Westford Academy students in the audience.
“The Social and Emotional impact this event has had on our student-athletes and the entire Wayland school community is damaging,” Easy said.
However, Easy also added that he would work with Westford in order to “to create and foster a safe and anti-racist environment for all of our students and student-athletes.”
In response to the racial abuse, Westford Academy Principal Jim Antonelli banned Westford Academy students from attending the following week’s home and away games, which was met with a mixed reaction amongst students and parents.
“Negative or disparaging comments will not be tolerated,” Antonelli said. “I am sincerely hopeful that this message is clear. Students are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect at all times.”
“Our work with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion continues to be a primary focus of our professional development, and we will continue to educate our students regarding these important topics,” he added.
The Westford Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEI) also published a statement backing Antonelli’s response.
“While perhaps surprising to some that Westford students would engage in racist taunting” the DEI stated, “the incident points out that we must continue to be actively antiracist and that our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work will continue to take place in all of our schools, across all of our town departments, and in our homes.”