Parents, Students Speak Out About Racial Hostility in Amity High School at BOE Meeting

Alleged racial hostility inside the halls of Amity High School: that is among the topics that was discussed by parents and students attending the Region 5 Board of Education meeting in Orange.

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At the Region 5 Board of Education meeting, students and parents expressed frustration and fear, describing intolerant and hostile environments in the middle and high schools.

One parent who spoke at the meeting said she's scared to have her children enter the school system, worried about what they'll be exposed to.

"I feel unwanted and unsafe here at Amity," said Amity High School student Samuel Bae.

Bae is a sophomore and said 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," Bae said.

A group of parents and students is expected to ask the Region 5 Board of Education to do more in response to racist incidents at Amity High School.

Parents and students who spoke with NBC Connecticut before the meeting said there has been racial harassment and bullying inside the school and they want the school system to take stronger action against it.

Amity High School student Nina Carmeli spent some of the past school year organizing a group advocating for change at the school. She said there’s been a persistent climate of racial injustice that she’d like to see corrected.

“The student still feel like outcasts in the community. Sitting in on some of these meetings has just outraged me to hear the stories that students are telling,” said Carmeli.

Matt McDermott, of Woodbridge, said some students feel unsafe because of harassment and a lack of effective discipline by administration and faculty.

“So many students of color, be that African-American or Asian, are feeling uncomfortable,” McDermott said.

“We’ve heard about name-calling and racial epithets being used in the bathrooms and in the hallways,” he continued.

Region 5 Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Byars said she had not been contacted by the students or parents who will be speaking at the meeting but said she is open minded to the discussion.

“If that is how our students are feeling and if those are the experiences that they are living, then certainly there is work for us to do to make it a climate that is better for all of our students who attend Amity,” said Byars.

Byars said the school system has implemented several measures over the past three years to curb such activity. That includes extensive professional development for administration and staff. She said she is open to doing more.

“It just means that we need to continue to put forth efforts and try to make it more welcoming for everybody,” she said.

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