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Parents of Montville cheerleader respond to East Catholic apology

Montville — The parents of a Montville cheerleader who was called a racist slur at a game against East Catholic High School said Monday that they do not accept the apology issued Oct. 5 by President Sean Brennan.

Montville cheerleader, Nadya Wynn, 16, who declined to comment on the apology, was called the N-word by East Catholic students following a football game on Sept. 24.

On Oct. 5, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference released two letters from Montville High School and East Catholic High School addressing the events that took place at the Sept. 24 football game.

In his letter, President Brennan said they were "heartbroken that a young woman from Montville High School had such a negative experience at East Catholic." He apologized on behalf of the entire school to Wynn and any others who may have had a negative experience.

"He already made up his mind before he even 'investigated' that my daughter, the other cheerleaders and adults at the game did not hear what they heard or experience what they experienced," said Montessa Wynn, Nadya's mother.

She said Brennan did not directly contact her and her daughter to apologize, adding the president set the tone for how she expected he would handle the situation in his first statement.

On Sept. 27, Brennan said in a statement that while school officials did not believe anything inappropriate was said at the game, they would continue to investigate and take the matter seriously.

In a phone interview Thursday, Brennan said officials had spoken with the entire school body the Monday after the game. He described the allegations to them, reminded them of the school's zero tolerance policy against such acts and asked them to bring forward any evidence and firsthand accounts. He said they also asked cheerleaders and football players to stay behind and give their accounts, but no one was identified.

"To this day, if there is somebody who has evidence that can substantiate these things, we would welcome that," he said. "If we had identified anybody, we would have certainly addressed it with them and held them accountable."

He said no one can substantiate that the racist slur happened and identify anyone, not even people from Montville at the game. He said without evidence, he cannot hold anyone accountable.

"My apology is specifically towards the fact that she had an uncomfortable situation and that she was not in her eyes treated well and we don't want that for anybody," he said. "I can't apologize for something that I can't substantiate."

Montessa Wynn said they have seen multiple comments from people asking about video evidence. She said, apart from being surrounded by a big group of students, the cheerleaders are not allowed to have their phone on them while cheering.

"Even if there was a video, people would ask what had led to the students calling her the slur," she said.

She said if people wanted evidence about issues with racism at East Catholic, they should look to an Instagram account from firsthand anonymous accounts of people who attended the school. The account in question is exposingechs, which began in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests last year and now has more than 300 followers.

Brennan said the school, which is 30% non-white, does not have a rampant issue with racism. He said all offenses that have been brought to school officials' attention, including videos from last year of two students who said the same racist slur, have been handled appropriately with consequences.

"One of the things we hold onto as a Catholic school is that we are all children of God, no matter who we are," he said.

In 2020, Brennan said the school started a Students of Color Union at the request of students, and staff members have done diversity, inclusion and equity training. He also said he met and would work with a group called Veterans for Black Lives Matter and the Connecticut Youth Forum.

Michael Wynn, Nadya's father, also released a statement and said the letter from the East Catholic president lacks "substance and doesn't get to the heart of the issues."

He said East Catholic High did not follow the CIAC guidelines as the home team to ensure a police presence was at the game and create a safe environment, adding there were no consequences for such negligence.

"My daughters and their teammates should not have had to experience such hateful, derogatory comments and be placed in an unsafe environment that was allowed to manifest," he said.

Brennan said there would be a police officer at games going forward.

In terms of the football coach allegedly going over the fence and into the stands to argue with parents, Brennan said a coach did go into the stands but not to fight. He said he went to help "quell" the situation between arguing Montville and East Catholic parents.

Montessa Wynn said she had spoken to adults at the game who had negative interactions with Brennan. "Even when asking for his assistance when our cheerleaders' stuff was getting trampled on, water thrown at them and kids spitting at them, he brushed those adults' concerns off," she said.

She said the family is not sure what their next move is, but she did not care for the comments that she should let it go.

"Not when it's your kid," she said. "There is no need for that type of hate to still go on."

j.vazquez@theday.com

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