Parents angry over basketball game fallout


Tensions ran high at the end of the Locust Valley Central School District’s March 20 board meeting as parents expressed their frustration and disappointment over the handling of a recent altercation at a boys’ high school varsity basketball game against Oyster Bay High School on February 8. The incident, which resulted in the entire high school barred from watching the team’s subsequent tournament game, has sparked a debate within the community about accountability and the role of administrators in ensuring the safety and integrity of school events.

The incident in question took a serious turn when a brawl erupted between individuals associated with the Gotti family and another attendee during the game at Locust Valley High School. According to a police report, the altercation escalated after a woman confronted someone for cursing at the students, leading to a physical confrontation that left one individual’s wig torn off.

John “Junior” Gotti, son of the infamous “Teflon Don,” defended his daughter, Gianna, and wife, Kimberly, stating they were provoked and acted in self-defense. Their attorney, Gerard Marrone, emphasized their desire to avoid criminal charges, citing Gianna’s aspiration to attend law school.

The aftermath of the altercation has left some parents questioning the district’s response and the fairness of the punishment imposed on the students. Some parents expressed frustration over the lack of security measures in place during the game, pointing to previous incidents and calling for increased supervision at school events.

One parent, Melanie Green, voiced concerns about the impact of the punishment on the basketball team, which had been performing well throughout the season. Green also said that not enough was done by the administration to prevent the situation from escalating into a brawl.

“They were robbed of school spirit and their morale was destroyed,” she lamented. “There was no separation of fans by athletic supervisors at that basketball game, and there seems to be a shortage of at every sporting event I’ve attended.”

Others, such as parent Pete Brown, echoed similar sentiments, highlighting the negative repercussions of the incident on the students and the community as a whole. Brown’s family have lived in Locust Valley for over 100 years. He said games between Locust Valley and Oyster Bay have been contentious in the past.

“This is not the first time this has happened between Locust Valley and Oyster Bay, and this is where my problem is,” Brown said. “At last year’s basketball game the exact same thing happened, but it didn’t result in a physical altercation. The administration should’ve been prepared for that.”

Superintendent Kristen Turnow addressed the concerns raised by parents, emphasizing the importance of promoting respectful behavior and fostering a sense of community within the district. She said there will be more district administrators attending games going forward, and then added that the students were removed due to their poor sportsmanship prior to the altercation.

“Whether it’s a musical, whether it’s an athletic game, doesn’t matter what it is, a five-year-old should be able to be present and an 85-year-old should be able to be present,” Turnow said. “There’s never a reason to be mean. There’s never a reason to argue. There’s never a reason ... for them to chant. You can clap. You can cheer, but you never have to be disrespectful.”

Francesco Ianni, superintendent of Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District, declined to comment.