Racism Accusations Shake Several Long Island School Districts

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Five schools across Long Island are reportedly under investigation or facing criticism after reports of racist comments and behavior toward students, electoral candidates, and parents in recent weeks.

The first in the recent spate of incidents started on April 24, after a white math teacher and athletic supervisor allegedly called a Black student “monkey” during a football game, according to News 12 Long Island. 

“The board of education expects district administrators, teachers and other staff to act as role models for the students and uphold board policies against racists, intolerance, discrimination and social injustice,” President of the Amityville School Board, Dr. Terry Fulton, wrote in a statement that went to parents. The teacher is currently suspended with pay.

Shortly thereafter, a sixth-grade Asian American student at South Woods Middle School in Syosset was accosted by his peers. According to a Facebook post by the victim’s mother, the student was told to “Go back to your country.” The Daily Mail also reports that the victim was allegedly called a “Covid starter” and told that “white lives matter too.”

“A group of 6th grade students harassed my son, physically and verbally, during recess at school on 5/6/2021,” the Facebook post reads. “I am very disturbed by this incident.”

The district opened up an investigation and found that there were multiple incidents in which students “verbally expressed different types of bias and at least one of those incidents became physical,” reads a statement by Dr. Tom Rogers, Syosset school superintendent. Rogers continues to condemn the behavior that took place and acknowledges the sentiments of parents who expressed anger after learning of the incident. 

“I am glad I work in a community that is upset by an incident like this,” Rogers said.

In a separate incident, Mary Alyce Rogers, the parent of a student in Westhampton Beach, said that Board of Education President Suzzane Mensch called her a bully after she spoke out against perceived racism in the district, according to The Southampton Press. Rogers told The Southampton Press that she tried to address the issue on two separate occasions only to be met with statements like “thank you for sharing.” At the third meeting, Mensch responded with, “You come here repeatedly and abuse seven volunteers of the community who donate a tremendous amount of unpaid time to all of our students in this district” and called her a bully. Mensch later defended her response by stating that students who are spoken to in any academic manner cannot be publicly addressed.

Also in Suffolk, in Bellport, a family member of school board candidate Cameron Trent found one of his campaign flyers in his mailbox on Mother’s Day with a racist remark written across it. Trent noted in a Facebook post that he promptly handed the flyer over to the district’s fifth precinct for investigation. 

“I believe now is the time to come together as a community that’s full of diversity and speak truth to hate,” he continued in his post. “This election has become a referendum on who we are and where we want to be as a community. I will run, and with your help, I will win.”

And in an interesting turn of events, the Smithtown Central School District released a statement on April 29 defending its equity efforts after an organization called Save Our Schools accused the school district of prejudice against white students. The organization alleged that the school curricula promotes an anti-police agenda, according to Politico

Save Our Schools created and circulated a newsletter filled with misinformation that condemned efforts to address social justice and racial equity within the school district. Its website advocates against teaching critical race theory citing it as “a chosen vehicle for Communist penetration, given its experience with slavery and its aftermath.”

Both the Syosset and Bellport cases are still under investigation.

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