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Ossining, Sleepy Hollow Schools Respond To Rivalry Fight

OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining Mayor William Hanauer wants residents to know that the village is responding to an incident that sent three Sleepy Hollow teens to the hospital Friday night.

Three junior varsity Sleepy Hollow football players were taken to Phelps Memorial Hospital Friday night after they reported that they were assaulted and harassed by 15 to 20 teenagers in downtown Ossining, police said earlier this week. All three of the teens were later treated and released for “minor injuries,” police said. Hanauer called the behavior of the Ossining teenagers “abhorrent” and “unacceptable” during Tuesday night’s Village of Ossining Work Session in Town Hall.  

“Often, as on Friday evening, teens act before thinking and mob mentality gives rise to greater vitriol and cover to incendiary behavior,” Hanauer said. “This is not what Ossining is all about. But this is not a moment either for panic or rash action.”

Hanauer said village and town officials would discuss the issue further during Friday morning’s Intermunicipal Leadership Council quarterly meeting. He added that Tuesday afternoon’s rescheduled game between the two schools’ junior varsity football teams was without incident.

Meanwhile, Ossining High School and Sleepy Hollow High School representatives said they are saddened by the incident and acknowledge that it could have been related to the sports rivalry between the two districts. 

“We absolutely do not tolerate any form of violence whatsoever involving our students so we were very saddened by this,” said Phyllis Glassman, superintendent of the Ossining School District. Glassman added that she and other Ossining officials recently spoke to school officials in Sleepy Hollow about addressing the incident with the students. “What will come of this will be something very positive.”

Ossining High School Principal Joshua Mandel and Athletic Director James Dennett are organizing a meeting this week with students from both districts to discuss the incident, Glassman said.

“They are going to be jointly meeting to really talk about issues surrounding violence. The idea is to bring students together and talk about zero tolerance,” Glassman said. “We know that 99 percent of the time both schools are terrific so it’s just so unfortunate that this incident did occur. We’re trying to turn this into a positive learning experience for our students.”

Glassman later noted that the reported incident did not take place on school property and that there were no incidents on school property on Friday night.

Howard Smith, superintendent of the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns, said he was saddened by the incident but pleased that the school districts were working on moving forward. The junior varsity football game between the two teams was rescheduled from Saturday to Tuesday afternoon in Ossining.

“Kids being attacked for their association with an organization or with the schools or anything else is not a lesson we want them to learn,” Smith said. “We are still educators and we can try to help kids come out of this with a learning experience. What we can do as adults is minimize the likelihood of those things happening in the future. I think that’s a healthy approach.”

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