The Sayville school district Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, November 15 ended with security being called in to disperse the audience and board members following Sayville parent and speaker, Pamela Minutello’s public testimony about anti-Semitic bullying endured by her children while attending Sayville high school from 2015 through 2021 and particularly while playing on the soccer team.
Prior to Minutello speaking, current Sayville girls soccer coach, John Burke, spoke and said, “What we’re asking you as a board, and as a superintendent is move off perception and move on to perspective and put yourself in our shoes. The cancelation of the season, although a bit harsh, had to be dealt with […] the press release that came out after that was what was really the awful situation and that’s what we’re having a hard time getting over.”
Burke brought up a questionnaire submitted by another parent that asked if the anti-Semitic behavior were from more than two years ago that the board answered was “alleged to have occurred during the 2018 to 2019 season.”
“So it was alleged to have occurred, so maybe it did and maybe it didn’t,” said Burke who went on to illustrate his point by addressing a board members and pontificating on imagined scenarios of false accusations and their consequences.
“I will use myself as an example, I coach girls soccer, ok, Christine [Sarni] had two girls on the team. At any point, one of those girls could come to me and say ‘Hey Coach Burke allegedly sexually touched me’, boom, true or not, that girl can come to you, you guys can come to me and the countless hours and hours of work I put into that job, boom, flushed down the toilet because of one alleged student. That is scary, ok? That is the world we live in. That is what’s happened in this situation […] so if there is proof of this alleged incident, ok, let us know. Now, I know 95% of a time when these things happen, it comes to playing time. I told you my resume last time. In conclusion here’s what happened--it comes from playing time, they allege other stuff, that’s for 95% of the time, it’s never the star athlete that gets in trouble.”
Minutello went to the podium following call outs from the crowd that demanded Superintendent, Dr. Marc Ferris, make a public apology and say he made a mistake in his October 12 statement to the community alerting of racist and anti-Semitic behavior in past soccer teams while announcing the current team’s season cancelation following a hazing incident.
“There are so many things this board cannot say because it is private information, this witch hunt, this accusation towards me and my family, you wanna call me a piece of [expletive]? Do it to my face---this was not about playing time, this was not about anything more than what exactly those kids did,” began Minutello.
“It was not from one year and season it was from four seasons, my family, my children, never attacked another child, they walked away from those antisemitic acts, not once did they go public, not once did they name your kids, not once did another child stand up for my kid. Don’t you dare stand here and tell me it’s alleged or tell me that it didn’t happen!” continued an emotional Minutello.
“Those kids threw money at my child and called him a Jew [expletive] to pick it up. I’ve watched it in those parking lots, I’ve watched those kids actively discriminate against my child, don’t you dare tell me it didn’t happen. […] The past administration covered it up, now you know, this administration did the right thing for my child and everybody else. Not just the Jewish, but the African-American, Asian, lesbian, gay rights kid, all of them. Finally this board did the right thing for every kid.”
The Minutello family confirmed they had consulted with attorney advisement when reporting of the anti-Semitic incidents committed against their children but that they had never filed a lawsuit against the Sayville school district.