By CBSBoston.com Staff

DUXBURY (CBS) – School officials said the Duxbury High School football team used “highly offensive language” on the field as part of a play-calling system during a recent game.

In a letter to the Duxbury school community, superintendent of schools John Antonucci, assistant superintendent Danielle Klingaman and principal James Donovan said the language was used as part of a system that allows players to make on-field adjustments.

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Officials said some of the language had “religious connotations,” adding “while it was not directed at the opposing team or at any individual, there is simply no excuse for it.”

“It is important to note that while the players clearly demonstrated poor judgment, the responsibility for this incident also lies with the adults overseeing the program. In short, this was a systemic failure,” the letter read.

The school said it learned of the incident last week and launched an investigation. The play calling system was halted immediately, officials said.

Though the school said they can not discuss personnel or student discipline, offcials said they are “taking appropriate action.”

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Members of the football team will undergo a mandatory training in the near future.

“Unfortunately, incidents such as these happen far too often, and we need to do better,” the school said. “Words matter and ignorance can no longer be an excuse. As educators, we are firmly committed to leading this effort, but it will take the support of the entire Duxbury community if we are going to make our town a place where all are truly welcome.”

Duxbury head coach Dave Maimaron issued a statement on the incident. He did not specify what was said on the field, but said “using the term was careless, unnecessary and most importantly hurtful on its face—inexcusable.”

As a special education teacher and a coach, with a multi-racial family, I have a lengthy record of helping students and athletes of all races, religions and capabilities to become the best they can be.  I view the football field in particular to be the largest classroom in the school and have developed an inclusive program that welcomes, and makes part of the team, any student who wishes to participate.

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Anyone who is familiar with the program can testify to the emphasis we put on the importance of community service; we impart to all student-athletes to help particularly those in need, those who are different, and those who are alone in the world.  We, as a program, welcome the opportunity to participate in sensitivity and diversity training and look forward to taking the lessons learned to better ourselves and those around us.

CBSBoston.com Staff