Toxic and unsafe. That’s how parents and students describe their middle and high schools, and now they’re demanding change. They took their concerns to the Amity Regional School District #5 Board of Education meeting.
“I feel unwanted and unsafe here at Amity,” said Amity High School Sophomore Samuel Bae.
Bae says he’s dealt with discrimination and racism at school for years.
“I was called more slurs. On top of being berated for my race, I was insulted as I struggled finding my sexual identity,” said Bae.
At the BOE meeting, students and parents expressed frustration and fear. They described intolerant and hostile environments in the middle and high schools.
“Since starting at Amity, my daughter has experienced derogatory, racist comments directed at her in five separate occasions from two white students. At each instance, she was called the n-word,” said one parent.
“My kids have described to me a school environment where there is frequent use of the n-word including in the presence of teachers,” said another parent.
Those who spoke called for changes including planning a robust Black history month program for students and creating an Amity Diversity Committee.
“Students should have a clear understanding that any form of identity bullying will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly. That is not happening,” said one parent.
Following public comment, the superintendent thanked those who spoke and cited several changes they have made, including providing professional development to all staff and revising high school social studies curriculum to include a more inclusive world view. She added that they don’t disagree with the suggested changes.
“I want to work with parents, students, and our faculty to address the reality that students do feel unwelcome in Amity. And while we have done work in this area, clearly more work needs to be done. And I am committed to that,” said Amity Regional School District #5 Superintendent Jennifer Byars.
Byars says outside of this BOE meeting, no one had reached out to her office about any of this. She called Monday night’s meeting pivotal and says she looks forward to ongoing conversations.