People in Simsbury attended a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night to voice their concerns weeks after a photo that appears to show two students in blackface materialized on social media.
The superintendent and NAACP both encouraged people to attend the meeting. For many who spoke, this went beyond one incident. They said cultural education needs to be a priority.
During public comment, there was disagreement on the intent of the photo.
“It was hurtful and it was inappropriate however I don't believe there was racial hostility in these children's hearts,” one attendee said.
Maxien Robinson-Lewin, president of the Greater Hartford NAACP, disagreed.
“I do think it was intentional And whether it was intentional or unintentional I think these kids should be held accountable for their actions,” she said.
Some felt this incident was isolated, but Robinson-Lewin said they need to have bigger conversations about changing climate and culture.
Current and former students spoke up, sharing their own experiences.
“I hear the n-word uttered every day in the halls, and it's something the teacher hears and just shut their door,” one student said.
The key for many was moving forward through education in the classroom.
Superintendent Matt Curtis said since the incident they’ve held small group discussions with students, and administrative staff participated in a cultural competency workshop. And it won’t stop there.
“My hope is from these challenging times comes an opportunity to learn to grow and to educate each other,” Curtis said. “There is no room for hate in this conversation.”
Some called for harsher disciplinary actions for the students involved, while others said it shouldn’t be about punishment, but education.
The school district said due to federal law, they’re unable to discuss any disciplinary action taken.