A letter to the community from Mamaroneck Superintendent of Schools Robert Shaps addresses concerns about an alleged incidence of racism last December by a parent of a middle school student.
We first reported on this shortly after the School Board Meeting.
The child’s father spoke before the public School Board meeting saying that the District was unresponsive to his complaint.
Shaps’ letter says:
We write today to address the concerns raised by a parent about a specific incident that occurred recently among several middle school students. At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, the parent recounted a painful incident for his child (and the family) that occurred just before the holiday break in December, in which an offensive racial slur was used during an after school club. Some students were apparently singing the rap song “Moonlight” by the artist XXXTENTACION, which includes the aforementioned racial slur. From there, a dispute among students ensued.
It is without question that this incident occurred (though some of the facts are in dispute between/among students), and for that we must remind ourselves of our responsibility to be ever-vigilant in modeling appropriate behaviors and expecting our students – even very young middle school students – to live the important values that we stress as a school community.
Simply put, there is no place for hateful words or actions in our school district community. We place a priority on creating and maintaining a safe learning environment that promotes respect for all. We are proud of our diverse school community and its efforts to support our culture, and will continue to work within all avenues to reinforce our values of tolerance and respect.
To be perfectly clear: the district did not initially react properly to this matter (emphasis is author’s). We did not immediately contact (same day) the parents of the students who were involved, and this was wrong. It should not have taken an email from two of the parents to prompt initial action on our part, which took place two days later. We apologize for not acting more swiftly, as we should all be aware of how a lack of timely response can be understood as being indifferent to the very real issue that took place. Further, we believe the seriousness with which we addressed this matter may not have been properly conveyed, which only created needless complication and emotional upset.
The parent who bravely relayed his concerns at Tuesday’s meeting has drawn attention to this issue on a website. We respectfully disagree with several of the facts and characterizations made on this site. Specifically:
- All families who were a part of this matter were notified.
- The District unequivocally took appropriate action to investigate in accordance with its protocols.
- He was asked by the Board during the meeting to not speak about District personnel as per District policy.
- We reject the notion that our district’s leaders and its broader staff are oblivious or uncaring as to issues of race.
We will continue to engage our students in conversations about race, ethnicity, and other aspects of living in a diverse world in a manner that supports tolerance and respect. We will continue to utilize district resources to examine and refine our programs and curriculum to support these values. And we firmly pledge a continuation of this conversation.
Dr. Robert Shaps, Superintendent of Schools
The Mamaroneck Board of Education
Steve Warner, President
Paul Bulova, Vice President
Gladys Di Vito