February 7, 2013

'Heil Hitler' photo lands Greely girls in hot water

By Matt Byrne
Staff Writer

A photograph of members of the Greely High School girls' basketball team that surfaced last week on social media has led to discipline for some of the players and raised concern among administrators about anti-Semitic symbolism.

In the undated photo, which the school's principal believes was posted on Facebook, two players face each other, smiling, and give the Nazi salute with one arm in the air, while a third player sits cross-legged between them, holding her hands in peace signs. All three are wearing their team uniforms.

Members of the team had been referring to one player as "Hitler," according to a letter sent to parents of the players.

Administrators also said in the letter that "inappropriate and biased language (was) used by members of the team."

"We're certainly taking it very seriously," said Greely High Principal Dan McKeone. "We talked to several members of the team."

McKeone said administrators investigated the origins of the photo, and while they have not determined its location on Facebook, he said he believes it was taken by a parent.

Superintendent Robert Hasson said he was notified of the incident but was not part of the disciplinary response.

"Those are unacceptable behaviors at MSAD 51, at Greely High School, and for student athletes," Hasson said.

The letter to players' parents, dated Monday and signed by McKeone and Athletic Director David Shapiro, condemns the actions and urges parents to be proactive about addressing the issue.

McKeone said he got a copy of the photo last week, and it prompted a meeting involving the players, the coach, administrators and a school social worker.

Players have been disciplined, but McKeone declined to say what the consequences were.

He said the discussion was aimed at "helping our kids understand that once you put something out there, it's out there, and you can't take it back."

This is the second incident of anti-Semitic imagery in the Cumberland-North Yarmouth school district this school year. In December, Greely Middle School and some privately owned buildings nearby were vandalized with swastikas and offensive language that was later removed.


Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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