Here’s how it all started…
Just before Christmas (2018), parents David and Lorraine Martin learned that a White boy at their 10-year-old daughter’s middle school called her a “nigger.” Not only did this boy feel comfortable hurling this racial epithet at their daughter and her two Black friends (one male, one female), he also Googled the word on his phone and demanded (albeit unsuccessfully) that they read the definition.
The school did not notify Mr. and Mrs. Martin about this incident when it occurred. When the Martins reached out to the school about the incident their emails initially went unanswered, and then they were stalled and then they were asked to be patient while the school investigated. During the investigation, the school threatened the Black male student involved, accusing him of lying and telling him that he had “one last chance to tell the truth.” That experience left him in tears and feeling accused rather than believed and supported. When the Martins followed up with the principal (Emily Macias-Capellan) – after waiting a month for them to conclude their investigation – the Martins were asked to speak with the assistant principal (Rob Andrews). Mr. and Mrs. Martin responded demanding a meeting with the principal, which was eventually scheduled.
When Mr. and Mrs. Martin sat down for the meeting with the principal and assistant principal, they both stared at the Martins blankly, as if waiting for the parents to tell them why they were there. The Martins began by explaining how disappointed and frustrated they were that it had taken so long to schedule a meeting about the incident. The principal then said she was confused about why the Martins wanted this meeting, because she thought the situation had been resolved. As it turns out, according to the principal, the situation had been investigated, a disciplinary response was imposed on the White boy who used the racial slur and a meeting was had with his parents.
Evidently, both the principal and assistant principal had already moved on, considering this situation concluded: (1) They never met with the parents of the three Black children assaulted by this boy’s language. (2) No counseling was offered to any of these children. (3) No mediation was ever conducted between the White boy and the three Black children even as they continued to attend the same after school club; and (4) no meeting was had between all the parents involved. Additionally, (5) their teachers were never informed of the incident or asked to be vigilant with respect to how this incident may affect their academics. And (6) until now, the school has not made the school counselor - Evan Stern - (who was supervising the after school club when this incident occurred) available to the Martins to explain what he saw and heard on that day, despite their unanswered emails to him directly and their subsequent conversation with the principal. By the principal’s own admission, she did however make the counselor available to speak with the White boy’s parents.
In short, Mr. and Mrs. Martin were startled to hear the principal acknowledge out loud, that the only parents she, her assistant principal and the school counselor had actually communicated with and included in the discussion of an “outcome” to the incident were the parents of the White boy. What we’ve all learned as witnesses to this atrocity (and these Black children are currently struggling to comprehend) is that even in schools, when Whites are the aggressors, they are treated with more respect and given more consideration than those they have violently assaulted with their language.
Mr. Martin attended a board meeting in February 2019 and recounted the agonizing experience his daughter and his family have endured. During the public comment portion of the meeting Dr. Shaps, Steve Warner and Paul Bulova all attempted to silence Mr. Martin as they yelled over him and eventually attempted to adjourn the meeting. Both Steve Warner and Paul Bulova stood up and attempted to encourage the other board members to stand and walk out on Mr. Martin as he spoke. The video of the board meeting - which is regularly posted online no more than two (2) days after each meeting - was posted on the LMCTV website on February 11, 2019*. LMCTV has attributed the delay in posting the video to technical difficulties.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin contacted and met with the superintendent to discuss the matter and the manner in which it was mishandled. The superintendent stated he would investigate the matter and get back to the Martins within one week. After only 48 hours, the superintendent contacted the Martins by phone and admitted that the matter was mishandled. Mere minutes later however, he sent out an email to the entire school district claiming the exact opposite and excused the principal and school district of any culpability. The community was also notified by email (later the same day) that the Hommocks Middle School principal - who had been serving in an interim capacity since September 2018 - was appointed by the board of education.
A multitude of parents, former students and community members have flooded the email inbox and social media of the Martins to recount similar stories of harassment, bullying, intimidation, faux investigations and careless disregard for the well-being of students by the leadership of the Mamaroneck Union Free School District. It has become painfully apparent, that the superintendent and board of education have worked in concert for years to ignore the pleas and wishes of parents and community members who desperately want to see change happen within the district. The leadership of the Mamaroneck Union Free School District (MUFSD) must resign immediately to help the community begin to heal and forge a path forward such that trust between all stakeholders and those charged with leading the school district can eventually be rebuilt over time. This cannot be achieved if these individuals remain.
* Edited on 2/20/19 to reflect statement by LMCTV about why the posting of the video was delayed.