Authorities maintain racially charged graffiti found plastered across a football locker room at the high school led to a fight between students at O'Connor Park in West Orange.
School officials, however, dispute the allegations and say the two incidents are unrelated.
"We do not believe the issue of graffiti in an area of the weight room and the altercation at O'Connor Park are related, but the matter is under investigation. Upon discovery of the inappropriate graffiti in an obscure area of the weight room, it was immediately removed and steps have been taken to prevent such an occurrence in the future," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Anthony Cavanna told Patch Wednesday.
According to the police report, a 15-year-old student from West Orange High School hit another student with a baseball bat after allegedly being called several racial epithets. The incident occurred at the park on Jan. 25; police discovered the graffiti in the locker room Feb. 1.
The student wielding the bat was charged with aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful means. He was taken to the Essex County Youth House.
When questioned by police, the 15-year-old said he had acted "in retaliation" for racial epithets used against him by fellow students and for graffiti written in the locker room commonly known as "The Bubble," Police Chief James Abbott said.
Police arrived at the school last Wednesday to investigate and found the graffiti had already been removed by the school, Abbott said.
Though authorities did not detail what was written in the locker room, school board attorney Steven Christiano confirmed the graffiti included a "racial epithet" but had since been removed from the walls.
"I definitely don't agree with or condone any racial epithets being inscribed in our schools," board member Sandra Mordecai said during Monday night's board of education meeting.
"It won't be tolerated," board member Michelle Casalino echoed.
The graffiti was written in various sizes, with several of the football players' names also inscribed along one wall.
Tom Puryear, president of the Oranges and Maplewood unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said he met with some school and township officials this week and was meeting with the Mayor to discuss the situation.
Puryear said it was his understanding that there was a "direct link" between the fight and the graffiti and was concerned about how long the graffiti had remained inscribed in the locker room before being removed.
"There is a lack of sensitivity that needs to be addressed by appointed and elected officials," Puryear said, adding that he was worried by the "potential that the incident could have escalated into."
Cavanna assured the public Monday night "some remedial steps" had been taken to tackle the problem.
"There were some issues regarding proper supervision of 'The Bubble' and the board is going to investigate that and come up with some answers," Christiano said Monday.
Though he said during the meeting he believed the graffiti was done by an African-American student, officials did not confirm who was involved and did not released the names of the students because they are minors.
The incident remains under investigation by police.
[Editor's note: This story was first published Feb. 7. The story originally stated the fight had occurred at the high school. The fight occurred at O'Connor Park.]