Hamden Public Schools released an updated statement Thursday afternoon addressing the unapproved fifth grade class play in which two students were cast as slaves.
It reads in part:
“Ensuring that our students understand and appreciate the horrors associated with the enslavement of African-Americans in this country and around the world is a significant albeit critical responsibility we have as educators. We are committed to working with local and national scholars to determine the best way for us to have our students learn about and understand not just the enslavement of African-Americans, but to appreciate and become aware of the entirety of the African-American experience. “
The lengthy statement follows a rally Thursday morning with supporters of Carmen and Josh Parker, whose daughter was to play the role of "Enslaved African #2."
“If my kid was sent home as a slaveholder in a school play, I would immediately contact the administration and I would be out here pushing back against that,” said Cassi Meyerhoffer.
The statement says a fifth-grade teacher used the play, titled “Triangle of Trade,” from an old copy of a Scholastic magazine.
Dr. Carmen Parker says she contacted the school, the district, and state education officials about its use. The play was canceled and officials confirmed to NBC Connecticut that the teacher was put on paid leave on Tuesday.
As all of this was happening, Josh Parker says his daughter became the target of bullying.
“Before she has questioned if she was the cause of this and I’ve told her no, but now you have kids saying you’re the cause of it,” Parker said.
The parents say they met Thursday morning with Hamden School Superintendent Jody Goeler and other school leaders.
“Today was really just pushing them to take responsibility, and that’s what took two hours to do but we did achieve, holding them accountable,” said Dr. Parker.
“They did say sorry, but this comes 10 days after,” said Josh Parker.
That meeting was followed by a meeting with students, school officials, community leaders and the NAACP.
“They went in as a unified front and talked about the play, why it was inappropriate, and they talked about how they should have went there sooner,” Dr. Parker said.
“This is a totally reckless and irresponsible way to teach a race politic to young people,” said community organizer Kerry Ellington. It was a position addressed by the Board of Education in Thursday’s updated statement.
“We are committed to working with local and national scholars to determine the best way for us to have our students learn about and understand not just the enslavement of African Americans, but to appreciate and become aware of the entirety of the African American experience.”
West Woods Principal Daniel Levy also posted a statement, outlining Thursday’s meeting.
Dr. Parker says they plan to meet Friday with school administration and the teacher who used the play.