By Gregory J. Lamoureux
The Superintendent of Schools at Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, Lynn Cota, says the investigation into racial harassment by members of the Enosburg Boys Varsity Soccer Team, at a recent game at Winooski, found no evidence of such behavior.
Cota released a statement on Monday afternoon announcing the outcome of the investigation, which was conducted by Enosburg Falls High School Principal Joseph Dunarum.
The allegations arose publicly after Winooski School District’s Superintendent, Sean McMannon’s statement, in a public statement Friday, September 24th. In that public statement, McMannon said there were three Enosburg players who racially harrassed the Winooski players. He called for better oversight and training for athletic officials by the Vermont Principals’ Association.
Those allegations were made public six days after the game was played, and days after Enosburg filed a complaint with the Vermont Principals’ Association about physical violence by the Winooski players at the game, including one hit that appeared to leave an Enosburg player unconscious on the field for a brief period of time.
That video, captured by a County Courier photographer who was covering the game on September 18th, appears to show a Winooski player retaliating for a teammate being tripped by an Enosburg player, by head butting the Enosburg player.
Cota did not go as far as to say that there was no racially charged behavior at the game, just that the investigation did not reveal any evidence of such behavior. Instead, she is encouraging the Vermont Principals’ Association to look into the incident and offered to turn over any documents, files, and student statements they have received as part of the internal investigation.
“The investigators were not able to interview the student athletes from Winooski who reported the racist misconduct. A request was made for access so that the investigators could discuss the incidents with the involved Winooski student athletes,” Cota wrote in a written statement. “Understandably, the Winooski student athletes declined to meet either in person or by Zoom with the Enosburg High School investigators.”
Cota said school officials in Enosburg asked, presumably Winooski, for “additional video and investigatory notes,” but the Winooski School District did not comply with that request.
“The investigators also requested any additional video footage and investigatory notes and were not granted access,” Cota said.
Cota said that she is considering the investigation to be incomplete because the investigators did not have access to the Winooski students.
The County Courier formally requested a copy of the investigation’s report through a public information request. That request was not fulfilled as of press time.