Leading off today:
The Mahopac school district has suspended three students and may discipline others for racist tweets aimed at Mount Vernon basketball players and their fans after Mahopac's 43-40 loss to the Knights in the Section 1 semifinals last week, The Journal News
"We're still investigating. We need evidence. We take the allegation very seriously," Mahopac Superintendent Thomas Manko said.
The paper reported Mount Vernon Superintendent Judith Johnson fired off a letter Tuesday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Education Commissioner John King regarding the events of Feb. 27 at Westchester County Center. In it, Johnson alleges Mount Vernon players were "verbally attacked and subjected to racial taunts of an abhorrent nature" by Mahopac players and spectators.
Johnson said she wanted Mahopac's varsity team to be hit with a one-year ban, a request Manko called "excessive." Further, Manko called for Johnson to investigate Mount Vernon fan behavior, including an incident in which a Mahopac cheerleader was allegedly struck on the head after the game. The cheerleader was not injured.
The paper reported Manko was encouraging coaches and some members of both teams to sit down for lunch to get to know one another better, an idea that Mount Vernon coach and AD Bob Cimmino lambasted.
"I'm not interested in that at all," he told the paper. "These might be criminal acts. If someone does something to me, I'm not interested in sitting down and singing religious songs with them."
Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis called the incident, "A bodacious outpouring of insults hurled at our future generation."
Mahopac officials did not disclose specifics of the suspensions of students who confessed to making racially charged tweets.
"It's a learning moment and we're going to be giving our students sensitivity training so they understand what the words mean and why they can't use them anymore," Manko told WNYW-TV.
On Wednesday, Mount Vernon advanced to the NYSPHSAA Class AA quarterfinals with a 66-48 win over Newburgh Free Academy.
A new strategy: Late last year, I highlighted a piece written by Joe Werkmeister of the Riverhead News-Review to detail the dysfunctionality of the Shoreham-Wading River school district's officials with respect to hiring and retaining (more accurately: not retaining) athletic directors over the years.
Werkmeister returned a couple of weeks ago with another illuminating piece of reporting, this time about Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School in Riverhead.
Similar to many other private schools across the state, McGann-Mercy is feeling the enrollment pinch brought on by several factors, not the least of which is the cost of private-school tuition. To their credit, school administrators have developed a strategy intended to help boost enrollment by at least 15 percent in the next two years.
That strategy -- upgrading the school's sports programs to attract more students, whose tuition dollars might then fund hiring more teachers and expanding academic offerings -- is where Werkmeister's story picks up.
Principal Carl Semmler and new AD Paul Mastronardi, a full-time New York City firefighter who most recently coached football at Eastport-South Manor, unveiled the