As Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester, very few things actually shock or surprise me anymore, but this situation here is something that even I couldn’t believe when I heard it.
Tyler Maynes’ scholastic career at Iona Preparatory School, whose website list the school as (an all-boys National School of Excellence Catholic High School located in New Rochelle, NY) was marred by racial and derogatory bullying. Bullying of any sort is a national epidemic that many student are victim of, but when that bullying takes racial undertones from one’s classmates and teammates that should not be tolerable in this day and age, it turns what should be some of the best years of a young man’s life into a living nightmare.
Tyler was faced with increasingly severe incidents of verbal abuse, which were difficult for him to cope with as a student athlete at Iona Prep. For example, in 12/2013, Mrs. Maynes, Tyler’s mother found tweets from fellow students that were racially derogatory. In 3/2013, a message (e.g., e-mail) was sent to Tyler that suggested ways that he could kill himself (i.e., “drink bleach, hang urself, slit ur own throat, shoot urself, burn yourself, make yourself bleed out”). Thus, Tyler was confronted with repeated bullying and teasing, not just about his appearance, but with racial tones and provocation to commit suicide. Tyler’s sadness worsened and his grades suffered.
Although Iona Preparatory School was notified and responsive to this situation, it became clear to Mr. and Mrs. Maynes that it would be difficult for Tyler to continue his education there. The psychologist who is helping Tyler cope through this difficult time and his parents discussed how Tyler needed a fresh start socially; he needed an environment where he could make new friends and not have this history hang over him. Thus, Tyler enrolled at Archbishop Stepinac High School this past September,; he is thriving academically as he made Honors in his first semester.
Michael O’Donnell, the Director of Athletics at Archbishop Stepinac HS was very instrumental in following up with the CHSAA and helping Tyler’s parents navigate through what must have seemed like an incredibly difficult situation. Not only was Tyler racially bullied but when his parents transferred him to another school for a fresh start, to add insult to injury the parents were being told Iona Prep was blocking the transfer and making it difficult for Tyler to play basketball at his new school.
Mr. Maynes, not sure what else he could do contacted Black Westchester through, Rev. Rick Boreland who BW had previously done a community spotlight piece on, once Tyler transferred to the new school and he was denied the opportunity to play basketball, by The Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) due to policy that states transferring students must sit out a year. Tyler’s transfer was necessary and recommended by Grace R. Kalfus, Ph.D. the NYS Licensed Psychologist that Tyler was seeing to help cope with the racial and derogatory bullying.
As we begin to look into the situation after hearing Tyler’s story, which almost sounded like a movie of the week from the civil rights era, and threatened to do a full investigative report we were alerted by both Archbishop Stepinac High School and Mr. Maynes, that Tyler has been cleared to play. While the situation has been worked out and we will be doing a follow-up to Tylers transition at Stepinac, we will also continue to follow-up with both Iona Prep and the CHSAA on what policies they plan to put in place to make sure no student has to deal with anything like this again, and what if any deterrents and disciplinary procedures are going to be put in place for those who commit these egregious acts.
Iona Preps website has listed the Constitution and By-Laws of the Catholic High School athletic Association of the Achdiocese of New York, which states:
ARTICLE III (Athletic Principles)
This interscholastic athletic program must:
a) Aim at developing such virtues as loyalty, docility, generosity and
sportsmanship all based on Christian values;
f) Engender in both participants and spectators the ideals of sportsmanship,
morally correct conduct, and fair play according to the guidelines of a code of
conduct for spectators and areas of responsibility for supervision published by
BW finds it outrages that this could be allowed to happen in Westchester County in 2014 and shows despite what many think, racism is still alive and well even on the high school level. The behavior of the student who sent this racial charged text message, violated the Constitution and By-laws, but we are told by Tyler’s dad all he received was a one day suspension.
We must find a way to break this behavior and address it head on in order to move forward. You may say to yourself, these are just boys being boys, but this type of attitude should not be tolerated for any reason, no matter the age of the offender. Not only shouldn’t this be allowed to happen period, it should not be tolerated in a Catholic High School that is supposed to promote Christian Values, no matter how connected the family may be, but it was allowed to happen to Tyler at Iona Prep. If it was allowed to happen to one student, we must ask, how many others are victims of this as well?
In preparing this story we were amazed to find out just how common racially motivated bullying is. A sweeping database of civil rights data released by the U.S. Department of Education is giving new insights into how prevalent racially motivated bullying and harassment are in schools. The U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division is currently investigating allegations of racially motivated bullying at a southern Illinois school, The Washington Post reported in March.
Bullying in high school is not just a problem of individual torment: It is linked to lower academic achievement across the school, The Washington Posted reported in an earlier story, supporting Tyler’s parents concerns and need to move their son to a new school.
While we are happy Tyler is being accepted at his new school and now cleared to play, BW will be paying close attention and will be addressing this and any related issues with both the CHSAA and Iona Prep. If you know of any other cases like this contact us at BlackWestchesterMag@gmail.com and we will help shed some light and help bring much-needed attention to any cases of racially motivated bullying.
Iona Prep has yet to repond to our request to speak with them on this incident.
Tyler and his parents have agreed to appear on the People Before Politics Radio Show Sunday, November 14, to talk about this case in much greater detail.
Thank you Black Westchester for your support of all that struggle with bullying, whether that be physical or cyber. Fortunately, the CHSAA decided as of yesterday to allow our son Tyler to participate with the Stepinac Basketball program this year. We, our family, appreciate Stepinac’s full support of our son but more importantly, their decision to stand in support of the larger issue at hand – that being Bullying with racial overtones.
While we celebrate our son’s newly found eligibility to participate, we realize that the struggle of bullying still exists within out school system. This being said, we remain aggressive supporters to lending our voice for not only our son and not only our skin color, but anyone that struggles in the line of bullying.
In closing, we appreciate your support and that of the officials at Stepinac for our son.
James & Trina Maynes
The Maynes Family