NORWALK, Conn. – A rudimentary approval for a school field trip was held up Tuesday night by the Board of Education due to racial concerns.
The board voted unanimously to give a conditional approval to a Ponus Middle School trip to Nature’s Classroom in Ivoryton on May 5-9. That meant that Ponus administrators could go ahead and arrange the trip if there is a deadline they have to meet before the next board meeting in two weeks. Otherwise, board members will consider the trip after researching a news story brought to their attention by a concerned citizen.
The parents of a 12-year-old Hartford student have alleged that their daughter was called the “n-word” during a reenactment of slavery at the four-day educational program at a Nature’s Classroom in Charlton, Mass., according to news reports. The girl reported being chased through the woods and subject to mock threats of physical injury during the play-acting session.
“It’s just something that is unbelievable because you think, Nature’s Classroom, they’re learning about trees and indigenous life in the earth,” Angela Harrison said. “Who thinks they’re going to be doing that? But they’ve been doing it for years.”
Harrison said she felt she needed to bring it to the board’s attention.
“Before you fund it maybe you need to figure out what is going on, what’s happening with the lawsuit,” she said. “If this is going on do we want to continue to subject our children to it? Because they have been doing it for years.”
Board members took it to heart.
Migdalia Rivas said she would abstain from the vote so she could research the issue. Artie Kassimis then asked if the board would look into it. Rosa Murray and Mike Barbis said the contract for the trip might be time sensitive.
The possibility of a deadline was not provided to the board, so Barbis suggested a provisional approval. Lyons said that could be done, that the school could be authorized to go ahead if it couldn’t wait until the next board meeting, but if it isn’t time sensitive the board would like to consider it again.
Superintendent Manny Rivera said he would check to see if there is a deadline involved with the school making the arrangements. If not, the board is expected to discuss it again in two weeks.