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Officiating crew at New Jersey high school football game accused of racial bias, unfair practices

Officiating crew at N.J. high school football game accused of racial bias
Officiating crew at N.J. high school football game accused of racial bias 02:15

PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- There are serious allegations of racial bias and unfair practices against an officiating crew assigned to a high school football game in New Jersey.

The superintendent of the Plainfield High School alleges the crew's conduct was unethical and discriminatory.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has appointed a third-party -- former New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe -- to investigate the matter.

CBS New York's Christine Sloan spoke exclusively to the Plainfield High School football coach.

The football game between Plainfield and Montgomery Township High School took place on Sept. 8.

"Every time we broke a long run, it was a flag ... Every time we scored a touchdown, it was a flag," Plainfield High School Football Coach James Williams said.

Williams says 36 penalties were called against his team, and it cost them the game. He also says he was ejected from the game for questioning the calls.

"I think it was racially bias. You know, this is nothing new. It's been going on for a long time with the urban schools and the officiating crew," he said.

The coach also alleges an officiating crew member made derogatory comments directed at his middle school coach during the game.

"He was the ball boy, and they kept calling him 'boy.' 'Get over here, boy.' 'Come here, boy.' That's not right," Williams said.

Plainfield's superintendent of schools is demanding the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association overturn his coach's suspension and lodge penalties against six officiating crew members assigned to the game.

The NJSIAA's executive director said in a statement:

"The NJSIAA takes allegations of bias seriously. All parties - the school, the coaches, and the officials - deserve due process and a thorough investigation, and NJSIAA is committed to providing that process and that investigation."

"I feel like this has been going on for a long time and nobody's said nothing about it, so if I don't say nothing about it, I am part of the problem," Williams said.

"It was devastating for my son, who was the quarterback at that time," mom Khayiryyah Kornegay said. "They had prepared hard and long for this only for it to be taken by the officials."

The Plainfield Public School District superintendent sent CBS New York the following statement:

"The Plainfield Public School District has been informed that the NJSIAA will be conducting an independent review of the game film and will carefully evaluate every play from the football match that took place on Friday, September 8, 2023, against Montgomery High School. While we appreciate the commitment to an independent review, we firmly believe that this action alone falls short of addressing the critical issue at hand. The importance of Diversity and Inclusivity in this matter cannot be understated. It is concerning that the officials involved in the game have yet to face any disciplinary actions for their inappropriate misconduct.

"The Plainfield Board of Education is unwavering in its dedication to seeing this case through to a just resolution. Our community deserves a resolution that not only meets the highest standards of fairness but also promotes Diversity and Inclusivity. As stated by Rashon K. Hasan, Ed. S., Superintendent of Schools, 'We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring a satisfactory resolution for our community.'"

Williams says his team continued to play with a great attitude. Their next game is Friday night against North Hunterdon.

NJSIAA also says it has asked to make sure the officiating crew under investigation is not assigned to Plainfield games.

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