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Tuesday, March 18, 2014: Michigan case echos Mahopac-Mount Vernon issue

   Leading off today: Stop me if you've heard this one before ...

   Facing a community frenzy over students' racist tweets after their boys basketball team won a state playoff game last week, officials of the Howell, Mich., school district said Tuesday that unspecified disciplinary action is being taken.

   Howell Public School District spokesman Tom Gould said "four or five" students were involved sending the questionable tweets. The action being taken against them was not disclosed due to student confidentiality rules, the Detroit Free Press reported.

   The tweets were sent after Howell beat a predominantly black Grand Blanc team in the regional finals. None of the students involved was a member of the basketball team, and school officials denied published reports that Howell students were admonished by a referee for using racial slurs during Thursday's game.

   A representative of the Michigan High School Athletic Association said the organization had not received a report regarding any verbal comments made at that game, which marked Howell's first victory in a regional final since 1927.

   Howell High principal Jason Schrock said the schools are "discussing opportunities for our students to keep the relationship between our schools positive." Schrock noted it was students who brought the tweets to school officials' attention.

   Normal Abdella, superintendent of the Grand Blanc school district, said in an email to The Flint Journal that it's "hard to believe that the racial banality expressed through those messages even exists in this day and age."

   On a related note: The Journal News reported last week that Mahopac boys basketball coach Kevin Downes had resigned in the aftermath of racist comments posted on Twitter be students at his school.

   Reporter Josh Thomson took the unusual step of posting a transcript of his complete conversation with Downes online.

   Stepping up to support sports: Dozens of members of the Central Islip track team received free running shoes Monday from the Greater Long Island Running Club, Newsday reported.

   The Sayville Running Co. was packed Monday morning as runners filed off school buses for a fitting. Each student was able to choose one pair, up to $120 each, from about 60 styles of shoes, the paper reported. The GLIRC, which has 4,600 members, paid about $7,000 for 90 pairs of running shoes for the district's boys and girls team members.

   "We're a very profitable nonprofit that fortunately doesn't have the high overhead costs," said Mike Polansky, the running club's president. "Every year we try to do something when we can, and here there's just a simple need for it."

  
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   New York State Education Department Report Card data says Central Islip is classified as a "high need/resource" district.

   "A lot of the kids show up to practice in soccer and basketball shoes because they just don't have anything better," team captain Livingstone Harriott said. "This is a really nice thing for them to do for us."

   Corning coach resigns: Tim Hughes has stepped down after seven seasons as a head football coach in Corning, citing a desire to spend more time with his wife and their two young sons.

   Hughes, 38, was 19-12 in three seasons as Corning East and then 24-14 since 2010 following the merger of the teams at East and Corning West. Hughes coached East to sectional titles in 2007 and 2009 and Corning to one Section 4 championship. The Hawks were 3-6 last fall.

   Hughes teaches physical education at both Corning East and Corning West.

   "It felt hypocritical on my part where I was spending every waking moment with other people's kids, yet at the same time ignoring my own. That's not fair," Hughes said. "It was about time I put my money where my mouth was. The plan is for me to spend more time with my family. A flexible schedule is really what I needed, especially during the summer and fall."

   Corning-Painted Post AD Bill Pierce said there are two internal candidates for the job and he expects Hughes' successor to be picked by early April.


  
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