• Quakertown addresses incident at football game
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    Date of publication: Oct. 18, 2017

    By Barrie John Murphy
     
    Bucks County Herald
     
    Quakertown Community School District is showing zero tolerance for intolerance following the involvement of several of its students in an ugly racial incident at an Oct. 6 football game.

    School Board President Paul Stepanoff told the Herald that following an extensive probe, two eighth-grade Strayer Middle students are “out of school” but will not be expelled. A third, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, is under investigation.

    Stepanoff said the district is committed to having an “open dialogue” on the issue and is thinking of logging any future bias incidents – sans names – on the school’s website, qcsd.org. He said it was unclear if there was a pervasive race problem, noting that the district has had only three incidents in four years. “But we do want to make sure that every incident that occurs we take care of. Even one is too many.”

    The school director added that the district’s very public and swift response to the latest incident was a deterrent in itself to any future incidents.

    And the school at the center of the controversy is moving forward with initiatives of its own.

    In a letter to the community, Strayer Principal Derek Peiffer said the students who hurled racist slurs and objects at Cheltenham High football team buses had made “very poor choices.”

    “We are not taking this situation lightly. We are not ignoring it or chalking it up to kids will be kids. We are using this unfortunate event to teach and learn how to avoid these negative choices in the future.”

    To that end, administrators plan to conduct a series of character education assemblies and work with a peace center on a program to educate students about stereotyping, prejudice and other cultures.

    Peiffer also said if students see or hear something that concerns them they could leave a note in specially marked boxes throughout the building, and administrators would follow up on it.

    The student council will make amends by creating a video showcasing what Peiffer called the school’s “true character” and send it to the Cheltenham district.

    More than 85 percent of Quakertown students are white, with blacks and Hispanics making up 9 percent of the student body, according to the most recent Pennsylvania School Performance profile. By contrast, Cheltenham School District is 53 percent African-American and 34 percent white, according to the profile.