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article imageOp-Ed: NY school employee — black students look like 'gang in the hood'

By Megan Hamilton     Oct 9, 2015 in World
Catskill - Several African-American fifth-graders were hanging out together at lunchtime when a support staff employee at Catskill Elementary School allegedly told the kids that they looked like a 'gang in the 'hood.'
The employee, who hasn't been identified, is not working with the youngsters while the district conducts its investigation into the matter, school officials said Thursday, The Catskill Daily Mail reports. It's not known what job the employee holds.
The woman had apparently decided to approach the kids and tell them to mix with white students so they wouldn't look like a "black gang in the hood," RawStory reports.
The children had asked to sit together because they are part of the school's student safety patrol. Most of the monitors are black, said Celeste Jordan, a parent of one of the kids.
The incident has severely upset her daughter, who was crying inconsolably and had to be taken home from school. Jordan says she has complained to school officials, who told her that the matter was being handled.
However, Jordan says she would like to know why the employee isn't on administrative leave. The mere sight of the woman causes her daughter to get upset again. She suffers emotional outbursts because of this, has trouble sleeping and wonders "whether her white friends will still like her."
Fortunately, Jordan is persevering on behalf of the kids. She has brought the issue to CES Assistant Principal Lisa Schlenker, who has told her the matter will be investigated and addressed, The Root reports. She also talked to Catskill Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Farrell, who reiterated what Schlenker said.
"They interviewed each student separately," Jordan said, "and all the children told the same story."
Farrell told the news site that the district is in the process of concluding the investigation, and that the appropriate action will be taken.
"We are confident that any action that caused our students to be distressed or feel uncomfortable has been corrected," she said. "We are a multi-ethnic, multiracial community, and all members of our community, students and staff alike, should be addressed in a respectful manner at all times. And we are taking measures to ensure that such an action does not again arise."
Hopefully there will not be additional racially-charged problems at the school. Just seeing the woman at school stresses her daughter out, Jordan said. Now, the young girl feels like "her white friends [won't] still like her," since word got around that she was "excluding" them, when in reality the kids simply decided to sit together since they were all part of the school's student safety program, Counter Current News reports. Race played no part in the kids decision to sit together. Instead, common interests drew them together.
Jordan says the district has offered counseling, but she notes that keeping the employee on campus aggravates the problem for her daughter, Catskills Daily Mail reports.
"She wouldn't need counseling if no one was seeing her (the employee)," Jordan said. "I'm upset and I'm irate."
I find myself agreeing with Jordan. It's useful to turn the tables. What if a black employee had insulted a group of white students? Would that employee, in fact, still be employed? My guess is, probably not.
Seems to me that if anyone should be mistrusted, it should be people who think that a group of African-American kids hanging out together look like a "gang in the 'hood."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about NY school employee, 'gang in the hood', Black students, Africanamerican, Investigation
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