EXCLUSIVE: Allegations of racism at Staples HS; Parents say their child was targeted 

The mother of the Staples student said her child walked across the bridge and heard obscenities shouted at them. 

Nicole Alarcon Soares and Frank Recchia

Feb 16, 2024, 3:08 AM

Updated 65 days ago

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Two parents broke the silence at a school board meeting at Staples High School on Thursday to speak up about allegations of racism in Westport Public Schools.
Dr. Carol Felder and her husband, Richard Anderson, said students at Staples High School hurled racist comments at their child.
“Our children have been called monkeys, and worse has happened to them,” said Felder.
The mother of the Staples student said her child walked across the bridge and heard obscenities shouted at them.
The parents also said their other child is receiving a similar treatment at Bedford Middle School.
The parents shared a text stream between one of their child’s schoolmates featuring an array of highly offensive racist language.
“It is shocking. It’s shocking that Black and brown children cannot attend Westport Public Schools without being harassed by some of their peers,” said Felder.
The couple said they’re grateful three school board members chose to break protocol, publicly, by apologizing to them for what they’ve been through as a family.
“Any human being, let alone a child, would have difficulty experiencing this — and why should they have to,” said Felder.
Several parents spoke out in support of the family.
Anderson said no amount of sensitivity training will fix the problem.
The couple is demanding that the students be held accountable through a transparent process of punishment.
“In-school suspension doesn’t work. It needs to follow you if you come to school and you’re disruptive with racial language; it needs to follow you,” said Anderson.
School officials said they have a no-tolerance policy for racism.
“Today, any child in any town within this country should be able to get an education fairly without being racially targeted,” said Felder. 
Westport School DistrictSuperintendent Dr. Thomas Scarice released a statement to News 12 saying:
" During the Board of Education meeting last night, parents in our school community bravely came forward to share their painful experience of racism targeted at their children who are students in the Westport schools. In their remarks tonight, they also challenged all of us to do better. For them and for everyone in our community, we must meet this challenge.
Let me be clear: we do not tolerate racism and other forms of hate in our schools. When we learn that a student has been targeted based on their identity, we first take steps to ensure that the student is safe and supported. Following an investigation, we take swift, decisive action and those responsible are held accountable. 
I have had the privilege of meeting in the past couple of months with the parents who spoke publicly last night, and I want to respond to their question, 'Can you imagine?' In short, my answer is 'no,' I cannot imagine what it would be like to suffer through their experience. I do, however, know this: no student, no person, should ever have to face discrimination or harassment based on their race. We will listen, we will learn, and while there is no cure for the virus of hate, we will continue to ensure that our schools do all we can to fight against it.
I encourage anyone within our school community who experiences or witnesses acts of hate or discrimination to report them. We will continue to engage with students, staff, and families to listen, learn, and take further actions that contribute to healing and reconciliation. It is essential that we work together with the entire Westport community so that everyone in our schools and broader community is treated with dignity and respect."


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