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Pennsylvania school disciplined for marching band's costumes

The Associated Press
Former York High athletic Ron Coursey is now the athletic director at Woodland Hills High School in suburban Pittsburgh. He was one of the adults who spoke up when members of the Peters Township marching band showed up at an Oct. 30 game against Woodland Hills wearing black full-body suits.

PITTSBURGH — Officials have disciplined a western Pennsylvania high school because of costumes worn by some members of its marching band that were perceived as blackface.

The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League on Tuesday placed the Peters Township School District on probation until Oct. 31, 2021, and ordered it to submit a written plan to "educate and eradicate the social and racial insensitivity displayed by the marching band."

At least two members of the band wore black full-body suits during a pregame performance when the school, which is comprised of mostly white students, played Woodland Hills, a predominantly black school, on Oct. 30.

The Woodland Hills community likened the outfits to wearing blackface.

More:Ex-York High AD upset by 'racially insensitive' band outfits worn during Pa. football game

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In a statement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a Peters district spokeswoman said the district found the students "acted without racist or harmful intent."

"Nonetheless, their choice of costumes, in the context of the game, was insensitive. The investigation also revealed that there were multiple missed opportunities for adults present at the game to address the costumes prior to the students entering the field," Shelly Belcher said.

"We're very happy with the outcome of the incident with Peters Township," Woodland Hills Superintendent James Harris told the newspaper.

Woodland Hills Athletic Director Ron Coursey, who is Black, characterized the incident earlier this month as a teachable moment. He was the administrator who brought the situation to the attention of Peters officials after being alerted to it by upset cheerleaders and coaches from his team. Coursey is the former athletic director at York High.