Region 5 BOE to host racial hostility meeting at Amity High School – NBC Connecticut

Suspected racial hostility in the halls of Amity High School: This is one of the topics that should be discussed by parents and students attending tonight’s Region 5 Education Council meeting in Orange.

Parents and students who spoke to NBC Connecticut ahead of the meeting said there had been racial harassment and bullying inside the school and they wanted the school system to take action more forceful against that.

Amity High School student Nina Carmeli has spent part of the past school year organizing an advocacy group for change at school. She said there was a lingering climate of racial injustice that she would like to see corrected.

“The student always feels like an outcast in the community. Attending some of these meetings just outraged me to hear the stories the students tell, ”Carmeli said.

Carmeli will be among those expected to speak at the Region 5 Education Council meeting tonight.

“I hope the Amity community and the Board of Education will be able to hear and finally recognize and begin to address these issues,” Carmeli said.

Among the adults coordinating parent and student participation tonight is Matt McDermott of Woodbridge. He describes Amity High School’s racial climate as toxic and corrosive.

“So many students of color, whether African-American or Asian, feel uncomfortable,” McDermott said.

McDermott said some students feel insecure due to the harassment and lack of effective discipline on the part of administration and faculty. At tonight’s meeting, he expects stories to be told of specific incidents.

“We’ve heard of racial slurs and epithets used in bathrooms and hallways,” McDermott said.

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 was open to discussion.

“If this is how our students feel and if these are the experiences they are having, then there is certainly work to be done to make it a better climate 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. This includes in-depth professional development for administration and staff. She said she was ready to do more.

“It just means that we have to keep trying and try to make it more welcoming to everyone,” she said.

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