The New Jersey Attorney General’s office has concluded its investigation into an incident at Buena Regional High School, during which a biracial student was required to cut his dreadlocks to compete in a wrestling tournament. As a result of the investigation, the Division on Civil Rights and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), reached an agreement to suspend the referee involved for the next two wrestling seasons and require implicit bias training for officials and staff involved in high school athletics across New Jersey.
Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato (both D-Atlantic) released the following statements in response to the announcement:
Assemblyman Mazzeo: “Harassment and racial discrimination have no place in our schools or during school-related activities. Unfortunately, one student in Atlantic County was the victim of undeniable and unacceptable harassment by an adult who should have known far better. The ruling delivered today acknowledges that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in New Jersey schools, and offenders will be held accountable.”
Assemblyman John Armato: “What happened to Andrew Johnson was a clear case of racial bias and ignorance, plain and simple. He was targeted for the way he looked, and forced into an uncomfortable situation in front of his peers. This experience was without a doubt traumatic, and I’m grateful the person responsible – who has a track record of discriminatory behavior – will finally be held accountable. We must continue to speak up for tolerance, respect and understanding, and work to make sure no student ever has to go through this again.”