About one month after a white student posted a blackface photo online with the caption “new n—a in town,” a student from the same Connecticut school spat on a Black visitor at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Still, officials said they don’t think the incidents are indicative of a larger issue.
Dina Marks, principal of Shelton Intermediate School, called the student’s recent action stupid but not racist Saturday on Twitter, according to the Hartford Courant.
“The incident at the African American Museum involved a student spitting over a balcony,” Marks said. “It allegedly hit a visitor, a person of color. It was an act of stupidity, disinterest, & immaturity, completely inappropriate, but I believe, not racially motivated against that person.”
It’s unclear when the incident happened, but about 100 seventh- and eighth-grade students and more than 10 chaperones began an annual trip Wednesday, the Hartford Courant reported.
It was set to end Sunday, but by Friday Shelton Superintendent of Schools Chris Clouet was releasing a statement on Facebook that the entire group had been kicked out of the museum.
“This kind of action is not a reflection of who our students are, or
who we are as a community,” Clouet said.
He also said in a statement released to the Hartford Courant Saturday that whether the student was engaged in “horseplay” or bias is not clear.
“Far too often unkind acts in our world are excused because it was ‘only a joke,’” the superintendent said. “The individual who was spit on may not see it as a joke.
“I suspect it may have been more rude than racist. Not certain how the visitor to the museum on the receiving end of the act would perceive it.”
Greg Johnson, president of the Ansonia Valley NAACP, told the Valley Independent Sentinel that the location of the incident is evidence that it was not a neutral act of childish behavior.
“He didn’t spit on anyone at the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial,” he said Saturday in an email the news site obtained. “A total and complete lack of respect and one of the most degrading acts one can commit against another.”
Johnson told the Valley Independent Sentinel in an email that Shelton has a major problem that the school district is not addressing.
“I write this from a place of total disgust. Why are we here again,” Johnson asked. “Not two weeks ago I said if acts of disrespect and hate towards Black students by White students are not addressed the hatred and disrespect will fester and grow worse . . . Guess what? This is pretty close to as bad as it gets.”
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti said Saturday that although the “community has become a lot more diverse in the last few years,” he doesn’t believe that has led to race-related problems, according to the Hartford Courant.
“I don’t think there’s a racial problem,” he said. “These are isolated incidents that occur for a number of reasons. I’m not one to rush to judgment.”
Lauretti also said in the Courant, “Sometimes I wonder if we’re giving credit to the progress we’ve made.”