BOSTON (CBS) — Catholic Memorial School banned students from Monday night’s MIAA semifinal basketball game against Cambridge Rindge and Latin at TD Garden after they chanted “You killed Jesus” in response to taunts from Newton North fans before a playoff game Friday night.
In a statement released Monday morning, the school said members of the student body were told they cannot attend the 7:30 p.m. game, and that, following meetings over the weekend, the school administration has begun to take steps “both immediate and long-term” to better educate students about intolerance.
“There are no excuses for the actions of the student-spectators who took part in the chanting, their behavior was appalling; their actions and words do not align with the teachings or the value system of our school or the Catholic Church,” read the school’s statement.
The superintendent of Newton North High School said he’s also addressing his students behavior. According to spectators in attendance, the “You killed Jesus” chants followed taunts from Newton North students, who shouted chants of “Where are your girls?” and others that implied things about the male anatomy.
Catholic Memorial, located in West Roxbury, is an all-boys Catholic school of about 700 students. Newton North High School has a large Jewish population.
Catholic Memorial said it would hold a series of assemblies Monday addressing the anti-Semitic chants and focusing on language behavior.
“Immediate next steps for CM include a series of assemblies today,” said the school’s statement. “Administrators met with faculty first, and are meeting throughout the day with students by grade to address the incident Friday night. We will hold an open forum later in the day for all students to voice their concerns and ask questions.”
The school said they would also make long-term changes to its curriculum in the wake of the incident, and use the unfortunate events as an opportunity for students to learn about the consequences of their actions.
“Student behavior and leadership responsibilities will be included as part of a revised curriculum,” Catholic Memorial President Peter Folan said. “These next steps will be made with a great deal of deliberation, thought and input from the Jewish community and the Archdiocese of Boston.”
“We will use this incident as a teaching opportunity to help students understand the gravity of the actions of student fans, the hurt they have caused to Newton North High School, the residents of Newton, the broader Jewish community and their school,” Catholic Memorial’s administration said in the statement.
The school did say that, after consulting with Newton North High School, they would allow Catholic Memorial’s varsity basketball team to still participate in the MIAA Division 1 final “out of respect for the players and coaches who would like to finish what they have worked so hard for.”
Newton Superintendent David Fleishman was travelling to the game Friday night when he received a call about the offensive chant.
“As I walked in, a parent was shaken about what happened. I know there’s a lot of concern in the Newton North community,” Fleishman told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “She could not believe this was happening in 2016, to hear something so insensitive and so troubling.”
Fleishman said administrators from Catholic Memorial immediately had students stop the chant.
After the game, Catholic Memorial officials asked fans to apologize to Newton North’s interim principal. Fleishman said each student shook the principal’s hand.
“They were very apologetic,” Fleishman said.
The Archdiocese of Boston called the situation “unacceptable,” and said they were pleased that Catholic Memorial administration took action immediately after the game to correct the incident.
Fleishman said he looked at the incident as an opportunity for students to learn about the impact of their words and actions on others.
The school reached out to the Anti-Defamation League over the weekend to apologize and seek help in educating their students about anti-Semitism. Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Robert Trestan said students at both schools need a refresher course on civil discourse.
“This is a chance for Newton students and Catholic students to take a look at appropriate and inappropriate behavior,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports