, Gloucester, MA

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May 25, 2012

Twitter posters back on GHS teams

Less than three weeks after the superintendent of schools suspended several students from Gloucester's athletic teams for posting racist messages on Twitter about a black professional hockey player, at least two of the student-athletes are back with their spring sports teams and have represented the Gloucester HigH School in games this week.

Superintendent Richard Safier announced May 4 that the students who posted messages in a racist, nationwide broadside targeting Joel Ward, the Washington Capitals' forward whose Game 7, overtime goal eliminated the Boston Bruins from Stanley Cup contention in April, would face loss of participation in a sport for a "considerable length of time."

The district also removed some of those students from leadership positions in extracurricular activities, in addition to promising an educational program they would be required to attend.

Yet, junior Devin Hemeon returned to the state tournament-bound Gloucester High baseball team and played in its game Wednesday night against Danvers, while lacrosse defenseman and hockey goaltender Jesse Glidden, also a junior, played in his team's final game Wednesday against Manchester Essex Regional High School.

Hemeon was the Twitter poster who posted from devin_GeraldHart635 and targeted Ward using the "N"word and "tweeting" that "the only thing that is black and should be aloud (sic) in a rink, is the puck ... that's it." Glidden "re-tweeted" those comments at the Glidden24 account.

Safier, who did not refer to any of the student-athletes by name, told the Times Thursday might that the players' return has come after appeals.

"There have been challenges that involved attorneys," Safier said, "and, based upon legal counsel, I approved a slight reduction in playing time; otherwise there have been no changes."

The - reduction, Safier said, amounts to about a 7 percent reduction in playing time. He said he made the change after receiving appeals. He had described the remarks in early May as "profoundly disturbing," and an incident that the district was taking "very seriously."

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