New Jersey

'Ashy Knees,' ‘Build the Wall' Chants at New Jersey High School Basketball Game Spark Uproar

Jefferson Township Superintendent Patrick Tierney called on parents to model appropriate behavior for their kids

The superintendent of a New Jersey school district says administrators are investigating after several students and fans allegedly made racist comments to members of an opposing school's basketball team during a game. 

According to, Jefferson High School students and fans chanted "ashy knees" at a black player for Dover as he shot free throws during Friday's game, and fans chanted "build the wall" while the opposing team, which has several Latino players, warmed up. 

In a statement Monday, Jefferson Township Superintendent Patrick Tierney called on parents to model appropriate behavior for their kids. 

"The students involved are children and often children make poor choices," Tierney said. "By no means am I accepting or defending their behavior, but it is our responsibility as adults to work together with our children so that they can learn from their mistakes." 

Tierney said the alleged behavior exhibited during Friday's game does not characterize the high school student body. 

"Unfortunately, the actions of a few have now tarnished the reputation of an outstanding student body, school, and community and for that, I am very sorry," Tierney said. "Jefferson Township High School has over 1,000 students and to admonish all of them, for the actions of one or a group, is unfortunate." 

Robert Becker, superintendent of the Dover school system, said he thought officials should've taken action immediately to "curtail the hateful speech and behavior, ejecting those responsible while employing corrective action." 

Becker said he personally felt "anger and frustration that our students were subjected to speech which was discriminatory and hateful in nature. This cannot be tolerated and will not stand." 

Tierney said the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and Morris County Secondary Schools Athletic Directors Association have been notified. Discipline will be doled out accordingly after the investigation is completed, Tierney said. 

"We will look to use this unfortunate situation as a 'teachable' moment for our students and work to correct their behaviors with the sincere intent that these actions do not take place again," he added.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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