School officials in New Prague say independent investigators have reviewed video of a February basketball game that allegedly included racist taunts against a visiting team, and those investigators say they don't believe the taunts happened.
Superintendent Tim Dittberner said in a statement released Monday that the investigation initiated by the district included a review of video from the high school girls home basketball game against Robbinsdale Cooper, after allegations on social media that fans had been making monkey-like noises during the game. Robbinsdale Cooper has a number of Black players on its roster.
The statement said such noises aren't audible in video of the game, although there is a "repeated, low-pitched noise (that) is audible for approximately 10 seconds." The district said that noise appeared to be made by one person, but could not be further identified.
The district also said a New Prague coach calling out to the team to run a play called "Nike" may have been misheard.
The statement said interviews with about 20 people who were at the game indicated no one else believed they'd heard any taunts or offensive calls at the time, and that the allegation only surfaced after the game.
Dittberner said that the New Prague district is committed to racial equity, and is working to address other recent incidents.
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"The findings of this investigation neither negate the lived experiences of Robbinsdale Cooper student-athletes and staff, nor does it absolve New Prague Area Schools of its responsibility to create a culture that does not tolerate inappropriate behavior," he wrote. "We regret any harm caused to Robbinsdale-Cooper students, families, and communities. As I have stated previously, the findings of this investigation do not take away from the other incidents that have happened at the high school. Derogatory comments, including racial slurs, and racist conduct are unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
The basketball incident coincided with allegations of racist taunts directed against St. Louis Park boys' hockey players during a game at New Prague — an incident Dittberner acknowledged and apologized for at the time.
The incidents prompted Robbinsdale and St. Louis Park to cancel future athletic competitions with New Prague.
And the telecast of a New Prague game at last week's boys' hockey state tournament included New Prague students flashing a hand gesture some construe as racist – although school officials said they don’t believe the students were aware it's used as a gesture supporting white supremacy.