PENN HILLS, Pa. - There is a conflict between two local school districts after one brought armed officers to away sporting events.
The Penn Hills School District is calling the move by the Connellsville Area School District insensitive, but Connellsville is defending its actions.
Connellsville has brought armed officers to three recent games at Penn Hills. The action comes weeks after Penn Hills boys’ soccer players claimed that they were subject to racial slurs while playing Connellsville.
Those allegations were investigated by the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, which determined they were "reasonably credible." Ultimately, there was no definitive determination that racial slurs were or were not made.
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Afterward, Penn Hills and Connellsville resumed playing one another and, since Saturday, Connellsville brought at least one armed school police officer to three games at Penn Hills: a boys’ soccer game, a girls’ soccer game and a girls’ volleyball game.
"They were down on the field. They were next to the bench at one point," said Penn Hills Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hines. "They had the kids, not all of their team, but the bulk of them formed a straight line and they walked up the bleachers. There was an armed officer leading them, and I thought, 'What is going on,' you know?"
Hines told Channel 11 she has reached out to the WPIAL again to intervene.
“In my mind, I just think about this from the psychological point of view. Why would you now start imposing this model?” she said. "Either it's some type of intimidation tactic -- I sure hope that's not the case -- or you're genuinely afraid, and if you're genuinely afraid, why are you coming here? It just makes no sense. It shouldn't be this tough, it shouldn't be this difficult.
"Things were just already delicate. Everyone wanted to move on."
Channel 11 also spoke with Connellsville Area Superintendent Joseph Bradley, who said this is nothing new and does not target Penn Hills. He said Connellsville school officers are armed andare sent to games at other districts, too.
A statement reads in part:
“The use of those school police officers has been done for a variety of reasons and is not unique to CASD. CASD will continue to employ best practices that not only ensure our students and spectators meet our expectations of proper conduct, but also protect those same groups from harm or from false accusations”
Penn Hills officials say they don't plan to stop playing Connellsville.
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