Pittsburgh Public Schools reports banners displayed at Southern Columbia HS pep rally to PIAA

PITTSBURGH — Fresh off a history-making playoff run, the Westinghouse High School football team was welcomed back by fans Friday night.

The Bulldogs came up short, but it was the first time the team had ever made it to the state championship.

Conduct off the field by their opponents, Southern Columbia High School, is now raising eyebrows.

Pictures have made the rounds on social media, including one that shows two signs at a pep rally reading “Whip Westinghouse” and “Southern State of Mind.”

Pittsburgh Public Schools gave Channel 11 the following statement about the circulating posts:

“The District is aware of photos and a video circulating in social media that feature Southern Columbia football players and cheerleaders displaying racial slurs, as well as racially offensive and inappropriate rhetoric. We are greatly dismayed and hurt by the images. This type of egregious and unsportsmanlike behavior is unacceptable. Upon receipt of the images, Pittsburgh Public Schools officials reported the displays to the PIAA for immediate action and investigation and will follow up with an official report in writing.

“We are focused on the needs of any student impacted by the images and will be prepared to provide support to students when they return to school on Monday.”

11 News reached out to the Southern Columbia School District, which said the posters were hung during a community pep rally and were not at Friday’s game:

“Please understand, the Southern Columbia Area School District does not condone or tolerate any type of discriminatory or harassing behavior. All incidents will be investigated and if warranted, sanctions applied to all offenders.”

According to our partners at Sports Now Group Pittsburgh, Westinghouse assistant coach James Cowart said he didn’t hear any racial remarks during the game.

“There was some chirping going on on the field, but none of our guys made any reference to any of it being racist,” Cowart told our partners at Sports Now Group Pittsburgh. “Those signs [are] unfortunate, and in poor taste, but I don’t think they reflect anything that I witnessed out of their players or coaches.”

The PIAA provided 11 News the following statement:

“PIAA has been provided video and photos that are very disturbing and will not be tolerated.  We have been in contact with both schools and have started our investigative process.”

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