Teams will not compete in matches officiated by ref who made wrestler cut hair

Shara Dae Howard
December 27, 2018 - 7:07 am
Buena high school wrestler Andrew Johnson wrestles Lower Cape May's Bobby O'Brien at 126 lb. at Buena Regional High School on Wednesday, January 17.

Justin Odendhal/Courier Post via USA TODAY NETWORK


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Regional Board of Education in Buena, New Jersey, held an emergency meeting Wednesday, after a high school referee ordered a high school wrester to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit the match. 

"In light of recent events involving a student athlete of the Buena Regional High School, the district administration of the Board of Education has determined the emergency meeting is necessary," Superintendant David C. Cappuccio said. "We have viewed the video footage that has gone viral and are deeply troubled by the embarassment and humiliation that our young student athlete endured."

Cappuccio went on to say the district administration is conducting their own investigation and is standing by their student athletes.

"I've informed the NJSIAA that our school district and athletic teams will not compete in any contests officiated by this ref from this point forward," Cappuccio said.

RELATED: Family of the black wrestler who was forced to cut his dreadlocks speaks out

Dominic A. Speziali, the family lawyer of Andrew Johnson, said although they don't blame the coaching staff, there is a lot of blame to go around.

"The burden that Andrew has to carry was caused by the referee and caused by the people who allowed hi to be in that position," he said.

The state attorney general's office is also looking into the incident, and officials say the same referee was reprimanded two years ago for reportedly using a racial slur.

The meeting was then turned over to public comment. Rev. William Cowherd read a letter from a parishoner who questioned how the incident was handled.

"What I am deeply disappoitned in is the public spectical that was made of trimming Andrew's hair in an atmosphere that lent itself for the entire crowd to witness at this public event," he said.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said that the referee involved won't be assigned to any matches until the incident is reviewed.