Saint John Vianney Principal Steven C. DiMezza said today that the school is investigating an incident that occurred Wednesday during a boy’s basketball game vs. Red Bank Regional High School in Holmdel.
"Inappropriate comments were made with regards to the loss of RBR student, Albert Martin," DiMezza said in a statement posted to the school website. "False rumors about chanting began circulating on social media sites.
"Matters such as this one are taken very seriously at Saint John Vianney High School," siad DiMezza. "We are in cooperation with the Holmdel Township Police Department and Red Bank Regional High School. Please be assured we will continue to work toward a resolution of this incident.
DiMezza continued, "Saint John Vianney High School understands and is very sensitive to the loss of a student as we have had three losses in the past few years. One individual’s insensitive comments are not a reflection of our feelings at SJVHS."
RBR students took to Twitter following the Dec. 19 game in Holmdel to express their collective outrage over reports that SJV students allegedly chanted "Where's Albert?" in the stands.
Martin, 17, a Red Bank Regional High School senior, died at Riverview Medical Center Dec. 3 after collapsing during a basketball scrimmage against Point Pleasant Beach High School.
"There was no chant," RBR Principal Risa Clay said in a letter sent to parents Thursday afternoon. Instead, there were "comments made by one or more students in a small group at one end of the gym."
"The fact that it was only a few students does not make this incident any less repulsive or any less painful for our RBR community. In no way do we excuse the actions of these students," said Clay.
Students tweeted their reactions after the game, which SJV won 47-33, one writing that she was "seriously disgusted by the lack of respect" and another who was "infuriated."
"We are family and no one disrespects our family," another RBR student tweeted about the incident.
According to Principal Clay, she and the school's athletic director met with Holmdel police and "a number of RBR student representatives" to investigate the matter Thursday.
The SJV principal and athletic director apologized to the RBR community and Martin's family and is taking the matter "very seriously," said Clay. "They are committed to finding the people who made these comments and addressing them accordingly."
"Over the course of the past several months we have shown the true resilience of the RBR community, a resilience that we must not allow to be weakened by the ignorance and insensitivity of a few, said Clay.
"Join me in rising above this negativity and staying strong while honoring the memory of Albert Martin."