PEPPER PIKE, Ohio — Parents and staff at Orange High School in Pepper Pike are outraged after a Lake Catholic lacrosse player appeared to have a swastika drawn on his leg when the two schools squared off in a game on Monday evening.
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Orange High School Superintendent Lynn Campbell told 3News he wasn't at the game, but heard about the incident Tuesday morning.
"There was a student wearing a swastika on his leg that was noticed by some of our athletes on the field," Campbell said. "I don't know how that went unnoticed and seemingly unaddressed for a large part of the game."
Campbell spoke more about the incident in a letter sent to families on Tuesday and said that alumni and parents in the stands also reported a "visitor using racist slurs toward our team."
Campbell's letter reads:
"It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of an incident that occurred last night on campus during the men’s lacrosse game against Mentor Lake Catholic High School. Our players reported seeing a swastika painted on the leg of a Lake Catholic player, and subsequently, alumni and parents reported that a visitor was using racist slurs toward our team.
"I have spoken to the President of Lake Catholic who shared that he and the Diocese are aware of the magnitude of this situation. He confirmed that they are addressing the incidents, and he is very apologetic and obviously, does not approve of these behaviors. It is important to note that student discipline is confidential, so it is likely that we will not be made aware of this player’s consequences.
"Please know that safety is our top priority, and the Board does not tolerate discrimination or harassment. Furthermore, we understand the devastating impact these incidents have on kids and our community. Therefore, our players will be informed about the support we have for them as they try to understand and process this incident.
"I am proud of how our athletes took the high road and played with dignity, winning this playoff match in a landslide amidst such upsetting circumstances. Here at Orange, we are proud of and celebrate our diversity, and we are very proud of all of our fine students."
3News has obtained a picture of the player in question, which appears to show a swastika painted on the back of his right leg.
"I was in shock," Rachel Glazer, a Jewish student at Orange who was taking photos for the school yearbook when she spotted the image on the player's leg, said. "I don't know why someone would do that. There's no reason to."
On Tuesday afternoon, the Diocese of Cleveland released the following statement about the incident:
"Administrators at Lake Catholic High School have been made aware of the very serious allegations of anti-Semitism involving a player on the school’s varsity lacrosse team as well as a Lake Catholic fan during the game against Orange High School yesterday evening. The behaviors alleged are reprehensible and contrary to the Gospel values that Lake Catholic works so hard to promote.
"Lake Catholic is currently conducting an investigation into the matter in order to gather all the facts. Once the investigation is completed, appropriate action will be taken to address the matter.
"Lake Catholic and the Diocese of Cleveland condemn anti-Semitism in any form and extends its sincere apologies to the Orange High School community for the hurt they are experiencing as a result of what has been reported."
3News reached out to Lake Catholic for comment on Tuesday, but did not hear back. We obtained a letter sent from Lake Catholic President Mark Crowley to parents and guardians of the school about the incident. (The letter was shared to 3News by a parent)
"Dear Lake Catholic Parents and Guardians,
"I felt it important to inform you that we have received a very serious allegations of anti-Semitic behavior involving our boys varsity lacrosse team as well as a Lake Catholic fan during the game against Orange High School yesterday evening. The alleged behaviors are contrary to the Gospel values that Lake Catholic works so hard to promote.
"While we are not yet certain about what occurred, please know that we are currently conducting an investigation into the matter in order to gather all the facts. Once the investigation is completed, appropriate action will be taken to address the matter.
"In the meantime, we want to clearly condemn anti-Semitism in any form and extend our sincere apologies to the Orange High School community for the hurt they are experiencing as a result of what has been reported.
"Let me be clear that we will not tolerate any behavior that seeks to diminish in any way the dignity of any person. Recognizing that each person is made in the image and likeness of God, we expect each and every member of the Lake Catholic High School community to model Christ at all times.
"We ask that you to talk to your student to reinforce the importance of seeing the God-given dignity of each and every person and of the need to love others with the heart of Christ.
"In the Gospel of John, our Lord Jesus prayed to the Father that we might be one, let us join our prayer to Christ’s and pray together for an end to all hatred and division in our local community and throughout the world.
"Mark Crowley, President of Lake Catholic High School"
Stay with 3News for more on this story as it develops.