Change of Heart: St. Francis Prep Revokes Ban
by Nigel Chiwaya
Apr 15, 2009 | 2452 views | 1 1 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print

As it  turns out, the “St. Francis Prep 9” will be allowed to play for the school again. Their parents just won’t be able to watch them.

Last Wednesday, St. Francis Prep revoked a ban placed on nine players on the girl’s basketball team stemming from a boycott of a game against Christ the King in February.

Principal Brian Conway, in letter sent to the parents of the five sophomores and four juniors, restored the girls’ academic eligibility and allowed them to try out for any sports team next year, including basketball. However, the parents have been banned from attending basketball games, either at the Fresh Meadows School or on the road.

The school originally banned the players after their parents, upset with the team’s performance and the performance of coach Jo-Ann Wagner, had forwarded the school a petition demanding Wagner’s removal. The petition was signed by parents of 10 of the team’s 13 players. When the petition went unanswered, Parents the prevented their children from boarding the team bus to Middle Village.

The school responded immediately by suspending the nine players and preventing them from ever participating in Terrier athletics.

The school’s actions spawned a letter of apology from the parents.

“Our actions over the past week were irresponsible and thoughtless,” the letter read. “We not only failed, but embarrassed the school, Mrs. Wagner and the team and deeply regret doing so.”

The players will meet with Coach Wagner and her staff once Spring Recess concludes next week.

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Bernadette Chan
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April 17, 2009
As an alumna I find this basketball debacle disheartening. While I will undoubtedly admit I do not have all the information or know of the contextual background of the situation, I find that Prep’s tactics under the discretion of Bro. Leonard Conway , to be heavy-handed and undemocratic. Parents, who from the onset are encouraged to be active in their child’s academic and extracurricular affairs, were, I would argue, ignored, blackmailed, and now banned from games for speaking out against both the school and Coach Jo-Ann Wagner. I strongly believe the parents had no legitimate reason, besides that of removing the suspension placed in a blackmail fashion on their children, to apologize for expressing their collective opinion and organizing a petition demanding Coach Wagner’s removal.



Why the parents were ignored by Prep administration when they cast their grievances and their children subsequently suspended is an egregious abuse against democratic principles of free speech and parent activity. The situation leaves me asking: is this an institution that only permits certain activities amongst parents and students to occur, but those deemed inappropriate by “those in power” squelched and proceeded with with harsh repercussions? Is this the message the Prep administration wishes to send to its community-faculty, administrators, students, parents, alumni, and most importantly prospective parents and students?