Hamden Family Calls for Greater Change Following Controversial Play

They and others are demanding more needs to be done in the schools and town when it comes to diversity.

NBC Connecticut

A Hamden family says they have forgiven a teacher who planned a controversial play which was later called off.

On Monday Dr. Carmen Parker, her husband and their supporters took to the steps outside Hamden’s Town Hall.

They’re calling for change following the Parker’s daughter being cast as a slave in a fifth grade class play at West Woods elementary school.

The teacher behind the unapproved play was put on leave and the family say they met with her today.

“She came to us. Dr. Parker, I’m so sorry. This should have never happened. I love your daughter. What can I do to make it right?” said Parker.

Parker also spoke before Hamden town leaders, who agreed there is work to be done when it comes to diversity.

On Monday the school board apologized for the situation which is under investigation.

Board of Education Statement - February 3, 2020

On January 21, 2020, one of our fifth-grade teachers introduced her students to a play about the triangular slave trade. This was insensitive, inappropriate, and offensive. This play is not, and never has been part of our district’s curriculum.

Upon being contacted by a student’s parent, the play activity was cancelled.

We are very sorry. This incident has been very painful for members of our school and town-wide community.

The district and school administration have expressed their deep regret that this non-Hamden Public Schools approved play was introduced to students.

In addition, the administration has been facilitating communication among the parties involved and is conducting all the appropriate investigations.

In Hamden, we are proud of our diversity and believe this makes us a stronger community. In the past few years, Hamden Public Schools has placed significant emphasis on increasing the diversity of our curricular materials. We remain engaged in a major initiative to help staff and students develop a greater understanding of issues related to cultural sensitivity and equity. Last Spring, the Board of Education created an Equity Committee to supervise these efforts and keep the community involved and informed.

However, this incident reveals that we need to do more. We appreciate and welcome the constructive public input that has been expressed. We agree that we need to continue delivering training to our staff and develop inclusive curriculum that is culturally sensitive and reflects our diversity. For this reason, the Board of Education has asked the Superintendent to immediately start taking steps to assemble and establish an advisory committee to assess, develop, and implement culturally sensitive and inclusive curriculum.

Our district remains committed to this work. We will continue to build bridges. We will continue to engage in this dialogue. We will continue to listen and collaborate with our community to find constructive solutions and heal together.

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