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School leaders from Malden and Revere take part in conference at TD Garden on addressing and preventing hate in school sports

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Revere Superintendent Dianne Kelly and Malden Director of Wellness & Athletics Charlie Conefrey part of Attorney General Maura Healey’s statewide Task Force on issues

  Local education leaders from Malden and Revere joined with Attorney General and Governor-elect Maura Healey and a number of statewide organizations in a day-long conference on December 8 at the TD Garden to discuss programming and information on best practices to build positive environments and prevent, report and address hate incidents in Massachusetts school-based sports. Revere Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelly and Malden Public Schools Director of Athletics Charlie Conefrey took part in the conference along with many representatives from across the state as part of a new collaborative effort to prevent and address hate and bias in school sports.

  Attorney General Maura Healey partnered with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS), the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association (MSAA) in hosting the conference, which was called “Addressing Hate in School Sports.” School administrators, athletic directors and staff, coaches, and referees attended the event, which was planned in collaboration with Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, ADL New England and other community organizations, and featured representatives from the Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Pride, Boston Renegades and the New England Revolution. Conefrey and Superintendent Kelly are both part of a statewide task force created by AG Healey to address these issues.

  “As a former student-athlete and coach, I know that sports can be a powerful unifier,” said AG Healey at the event. “Today, we brought together coaches, athletic directors and educators who are committed to ensuring that young people can participate in school sports in a safe and inclusive environment. I am grateful to all our community partners in this collaborative effort and look forward seeing these best practices put to work.”

  Recognizing the power of sports to drive social change, and in response to a rise in reported hate-based and hazing incidents across Massachusetts, the conference is part of an initiative the AG’s Office launched with educational organizations earlier this year during a virtual call-to-action.

  “There is no place for hate in our society, and our school athletic programs have an obligation to set those standards and expectations,” said Superintendent Kelly, who is the MASS president. “The Addressing Hate in School Sports Conference brings superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches together focused on the goal of creating the individual and team culture that supports the diversity of our collective communities.”

  “This is an important juncture for our state in addressing and preventing hate incidents in school sports,” said Conefrey, who is member of the MIAA Board of Directors. “This call to action is a major step in developing the tools necessary to change and strengthen the cultures of student-athletes and athletic programs that need resources to do so.”

  “Sports are an important piece of school life, whether you’re an athlete or sitting in the stands,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “Sports teams and events should be places where everyone feels welcome and respected, and I hope that this conference will empower schools and athletic officials to build a more positive culture for our students.”

  “MIAA and MSAA are committed to providing the support and resources our members need to promote behaviors that instill respect for self, team, opponents, officials, rules and the game itself,” said MIAA/MSAA Executive Director Robert Baldwin.

  “We are excited to be working with the Attorney General’s Office and other partners to utilize the collective power of positive influence to help student athletes and teacher-coaches serve as role models to empower ALL participants in the process of positive decision making. When teacher-coaches, student athletes, and game officials choose the privilege of participating in interscholastic athletics, they assume the responsibility for right action,” Baldwin added.

Malden Public Schools Director Athletics Charlie Conefrey is part of a statewide Task Force that is working on strategies to address, prevent and report incidents of hate in school sports. (Courtesy Photo/Malden Public Schools)
Revere Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly is president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. (Courtesy Photo)
At TD Garden, Attorney General and Governor-Elect Maura Healey led a statewide conference on student-athlete hate with participants including education leaders from Malden and Revere. (Courtesy Photo)

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