BURRILLVILLE – Members of the Burrillville School Committee say they will not appeal a decision by the Rhode Island Interscholastic League to place town athletes on a one year probation despite calls from residents and Town Council members for action this week.

In a statement signed by Chairman Mark Brizard and Vice Chairman Donison Allen issued on Friday, Oct. 25, committee member said that while they plan to send a formal letter to RIIL Executive Director
Thomas Mezzanotte requesting a review of the organization’s rules for unsportsmanlike conduct, the penalty imposed on Burrillville provided no basis for appeal.

“The Burrillville School Committee feels strongly that the rules of the RIIL should be reviewed to ensure clear expectations for sportsmanship at all schools,” the committee members stated. “There is concern that the behavior of a few fans can negatively impact the entire school’s athletic program.”

The statement is the latest response to an issue that has dominated public discourse in town since a girls volleyball game against Central Falls Tuesday, Sept. 24, which led visitors to put out accusations of racism and inappropriate behavior from fans.

Burrillville residents and town officials this week stated that the penalties leveled by RIIL – the state’s governing body for school sports – was too harsh, inconsistent and damaging to the town’s reputation. At a Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23, Councilors and residents said they disagreed with the committee’s decision to accept the punishment, calling for an appeal of the ruling.

They also said the entire episode had caused embarrassment and ridicule for town residents and the athletes – who had done nothing wrong.

In the statement, School Committee members acknowledged the concerns about public perception of the town.

“Despite our disagreement with the Town Council on the issue of appeal based on the facts of this case, we fully support their concerns about the irresponsible accusations that were leveled against our students, our school and our town,” the note stated. “These uninformed and inappropriate comments about Burrillville schools, Burrillville students and the town of Burrillville are inappropriate and outrageous.”

“These last few weeks have been difficult for everyone in our community,” the statement read. “We ask for your continued support moving forward and thank you for your patience as we navigate these challenges.”

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