Burrillville school officials wrapping up probe of alleged racist taunts


BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) — The superintendent of Burrillville schools says the department is wrapping up its internal investigation into allegations of racist behavior during a high school volleyball match earlier this week.

Superintendent Michael Sollitto said it was reported that some Burrillville fans directed “insensitive, inappropriate, and racist remarks” toward Central Falls student-athletes Tuesday night.

Central Falls Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Downey Toledo said her district is working with Burrillville to get to the bottom of what happened. On Wednesday, she sent a letter to the R.I. Interscholastic League requesting a formal investigation into the matter.

Burrillville Police Chief Stephen Lynch said his department didn’t respond to the incident and school officials are handling the investigation.

“I think that’s more of an internal matter to see what exactly played out at that event and right now, that matter lies with the school department,” he said. “Every now and then there are certain rivalries that escalate a little bit with a passion between the two teams and we recognize that and try to plan for that and if there’s an incident we respond to that.”

On Friday, an image circulated on social media allegedly showing a police officer with a rifle standing guard outside a Burrillville school. This was a routine security measure, according to Lynch, and there was no request for an increased police presence.

Lynch said an officer is posted at each of the town’s five schools during dropoff and dismissal, however, they’re not typically armed.

“It depends if there is any intelligence information that warrants a different level of response, and if there is, we evaluate that and respond accordingly,” he explained. “On a daily basis, our officers are out at the start and close of school just to have that presence and safety to ensure the kids are safe.”

Any Burrillville students found to have made racist or intimidating comments will be dealt with “swiftly and severely,” according to Sollitto.

Eyewitness News reached out to the superintendent for comment on the results of the investigation and any possible consequences being implemented.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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