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Brooke Schools Superintendent doubles down on apology over sign

Staff report

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va.  — Brooke County Schools Superintendent Toni Paesano Shute on Tuesday doubled down on her apology to Pittsburgh Perry High School for a sign at Friday’s football game in Wellsburg that read “Trump Perry,” this time noting that the “administration” failed for not giving students proper guidance.

A sign that read “Trump Perry” was displayed during Friday’s Brooke High School vs. Pittsburgh Perry High School football game in Wellsburg. (Intelligencer photo by Scott McCloskey)

Shute on Monday apologized to Pittsburgh Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet for the sign, which some Perry fans and supporters took as a racist symbol.

The sign reportedly was part of the school’s red, white and blue theme for the game. An American flag was painted next to “Trump Perry.”

Sheila May-Stein, a librarian at Pittsburgh Perry, tweeted this about the sign: “My mostly Black, inner-city school played this team (Friday) night & were confronted w/this. Sickening racism.”

In a letter to Hamlet, Shute apologized for the “insensitive, intimidating and offensive sign posted in (the) student section at Friday night’s game,” which was held at Brooke High School. Perry parents and fans over the weekend complained that the sign was racist in nature.

“The sign’s message does not reflect our true beliefs nor what we want to teach our children,” Shute’s letter states. “Policies were not followed by school administrators to ensure a climate free from bullying and harassment, and as a result people were offended in our home. We have a moral obligation to teach our children, and we will make this a teachable moment to instill the core values of respect and dignity for all.”

On Tuesday, Shute followed up her apology with a statement that reads, “When we offend or hurt someone, we apologize, even when we didn’t mean to offend. What occurred at the game Friday night was a result of a lack of guidance from our administration. I do not believe in my heart that our children set out to make others feel intimidated, yet that’s exactly what happened.”

Many commenters on The Intelligencer’s Facebook page disagreed with Shute over her initial apology.

“Apologizing implies you are in the wrong. Shame on Tony (sic) for not standing up for her students and staff that did NO wrong. Maybe Perry should educate there students and community what the definition of trump is,” Melinda Sue Popish wrote.

“Ridiculous! Absolutely ridiculous. The Brooke student body should be offended by the Super’s action,” David Helms added.

Reaction on Facebook Tuesday night remained divided between commenters suggesting Shute be fired and others supporting Trump.

Carri Chaykowsky Fitzpatrick said, “If this sign was made two years ago it wouldn’t even be an issue. Trump is in the dictionary meaning beat.”

Brooke won the game, 34-20.

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