A Clifton player’s racist comment targeting the John F. Kennedy High School team led to the cancellation of the Friday night football game, superintendent Eileen Shafer revealed on Monday afternoon.
Shafer was forwarded a copy of the post on Friday morning while she was attending a meeting of all Passaic County schools superintendents. The post read, “Watch these kennedy niggas get they ass whooped … [sic].”
Shafer brought the racist post to the attention of Richard Tardalo, superintendent of the Clifton public schools, at the gathering.
“The social media post that used the n-word against Kennedy Knights players took healthy competition down to the depraved level of racism. It’s unacceptable and I won’t tolerate racist behavior against anyone in the Paterson Public Schools, most especially against our students,” Shafer said. “Because I have seen no action from Mr. Tardalo, I’m calling upon the NJSIAA to make sure this matter is investigated fully and that the person, or group of people, responsible for the racist post are held accountable.”
Tardalo did not respond to a message seeking his comment for this report.
“We have not yet received a complaint. We are aware of the situation from media reports and are reaching out to both schools for details,” said Mike Cherenson, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).
The racist comment by the Clifton player prompted a response from the Kennedy Knights.
Kennedy players reacted to the post in a video that contained foul language. The player in the video was benched and the game was postponed to Saturday morning, Shafer announced on Friday afternoon.
At the time Shafer did not disclose the content of the Clifton Mustangs player’s post.
“Safety must always come first, and calling attention to the disgusting racial slur against our football players before the game could have put at risk the safety of players, students, staff and families who attended the game,” said Shafer. “Now that the game has been played, the time has come for action against the racist behavior against our football players.”
Clifton defeated Paterson.
Shafer met with the Knights coaches on Monday morning to find an official at the game told a Kennedy team captain to “Shut the f— up” in response to a question. School officials said the man in the incident introduced himself to the players as “Joe.”
Gary Passenti, president of the Clifton school board, did not respond to a message seeking his comment for this report.