Officials in a New Jersey school district canceled the remainder of the boys' lacrosse season Friday after allegations that a white team member used a racial slur against a black female athlete from another school.
Interim Haddonfield School District Superintendent David T. Lindenmuth issued a statement saying the season was canceled effective immediately and that there was "no room for hate of any kind" in the district. The allegations stem from a track meet held at the affluent Camden County school district earlier this month.
A black female track athlete from Sterling High School in Somerdale told officials from her school that she was tying her shoes on the track that surrounds the practice lacrosse field at Haddonfield High School when a group of white lacrosse players passed by her during a multi-school track event on May 1. She said one of the boys told her to get off his track and called her the N-word.
Cydney Thomas, an athlete from Haddon Heights High School, told NBC10 Friday night that she also heard the slur used.
"It really made me upset," she said.
Thomas, a sophomore, said the girl the slur was directed at was "very bothered by it."
"She started crying," she said.
Lindenmuth's statement said the district had investigated and "some issues were discovered that are completely unacceptable for this community." The statement did not give details of any other possible incidents or issues uncovered in the investigation.
He said the district had reached out to the NAACP and other organizations to hold training sessions. The district has also begun a dialogue with the student body about diversity and inclusiveness, which will include trainings for staff and coaches.
Lloyd Henderson, president of the Camden County East NAACP, said he hopes the lacrosse team willingly apologizes.
"Haddonfield is an elite school system in South Jersey, if not, all of New Jersey. To hear it from that level is shocking," he said.
Complaints about the incident have been filed with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the civil rights division of the state attorney general's office.