Colonial PTA calls for decisive action after Siwanoy racist acts: Board must stop ‘debating over semantics and best practices’


Editor’s note: The Colonial PTA issued this statement on the racist acts that occurred at Siwanoy Elementary School. It was read during public comments at the board of education meeting on Wednesday.

I stand here tonight on behalf of the Colonial School PTA and in solidarity with all the parents, caregivers, teachers, staff, students, and alumni of Colonial who feel outrage at the recent incidents of racism that occurred at Siwanoy Elementary School.

Here we are again. Shock, outrage, sadness, frustration. How many more times will we need to issue statements like this before we, as a district, take decisive action?

The District must prioritize the implementation of the DEI Policy that was adopted over the summer and engage in direct and meaningful conversations with our students to teach them explicitly what hate speech is and that it won’t be tolerated. It must go beyond being a kind and a good citizen. Teachers must be better trained. Incidents must be fully investigated, and parents must be held accountable. We encourage the district to engage a DEI professional to help steer its efforts and ensure that DEI is front and center in each building. The BOE cannot spend more time debating over semantics and best practices while our children are being traumatized and made to feel ostracized. We must be proactive in preventing this type of behavior, not just reactive and shocked when it does happen.

Our Diversity Committee and PTA stand ready to do our part, in partnership with the Board and the Cultural Competency Committee, to take any action necessary.

Our children are not the problem. We know that. We know that ignorance and racism are at the heart of the horrendous acts that were reported. But so, too, is complacency. Even if the vast majority of our community agrees that these acts are awful and even embarrassing, too many aren’t willing, or don’t know how, to take meaningful action to prevent acts of hate from happening again. Adults who allow acts of hate and racism to occur are the problem. Anyone who thinks that finding the N-word on an elementary school slide is unfortunate but not their problem is enabling racism. Anyone who thinks that “someone else” will deal with a swastika etched into not-their-child’s locker is allowing acts of hate to plague our community. Any community leader who is not laser focused on eradicating acts of hate and racism from our classrooms, playgrounds and community is part of the problem.

Prejudice and acts of hate are not just a school problem, and there is only so much the District can control. But if any child is made to feel unwelcome or unsafe, we must do everything in our power to change that. That child is our child. Those acts of hate target us.

In closing, we want to express our sympathy to all families impacted by these acts of racism and remind them that they are not alone. We stand with you.