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Wantagh officials investigating hate speech

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Wantagh school district officials are investigating an incident in which a Wantagh student athlete allegedly directed an anti-Asian remark at a visiting member of the Valley Stream South High School girls varsity tennis team last week.

The team had been visiting for a tennis meet at Wantagh High School on March 17, when a member of the high school football team allegedly approached the group on the court and made the comment, according to Central High School District Athletic Director Scott Stueber. Members of both the South and Wantagh high school tennis teams then reported the incident to their coaches who then notified their respective district administrations.

“Wantagh took it seriously,” Stueber said. “The building principal and athletic director at Wantagh have been communicating with us all week long. They took a statement from our team, and they took a statement from their team and they used that information to identify the individual.”

Stueber noted that it appeared to be an isolated incident, and that other members of Wantagh football team were not involved.

The alleged incident took place amid heightened concerns over anti-Asian sentiment in the country following a shooting spree on March 16 at three separate spas in Atlanta Ga. that left six Asian Americans dead, and which authorities say may have been racially motivated.

Stueber said the tennis players were keenly aware of the sensitivity of the situation.

“This was one individual that unfortunately made a very insensitive comment, and the athletes did a good job of not engaging and reporting it,” he said. “It was handled the way something like this should be handled.”

Regarding the Wantagh school officials, he said, “We feel they’re taking it seriously and we trust they’re going to do the right thing.”

Wantagh Schools Superintendent John McNamara released a statement in which he apologized to members of the South tennis team, and said the incident was currently under investigation.

“Our district is committed to providing a safe, inclusive environment for our entire school community and does not tolerate actions such as the one displayed at this match,” he said, later adding, “The student responsible for this inappropriate comment will be held accountable for their actions and face appropriate consequences as per our code of conduct.”

The statement did not identify the student nor specify what kind of action would be taken against them.