Clouet: SIS student spits on black patron at Smithsonian

Exterior, Shelton Intermediate School, in Shelton, Conn. Aug. 9, 2016.

Exterior, Shelton Intermediate School, in Shelton, Conn. Aug. 9, 2016.

Intermediate school students, on their annual trip to Washington, D.C., were thrown out of the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum after a white male student spit on an African-American visitor to the museum, according to school Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet.

Clouet informed the school community in a Facebook post about 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11.

“This kind of action is not a reflection of who our students are, or who we are as a community,” said Clouet in the post. “This is not the time or place to talk about consequences. But this is now, regrettably, a pattern of behavior that is disrespectful and does not serve anyone well —including the student who acted inappropriately and embarrassed himself and his school.”

Valley NAACP President Greg Johnson said Shelton has a “major problem” and need to institute a zero tolerance policy with regard to racism immediately.

“You have not been proactive with these situations,” said Johnson, “but you react to the children of color who stand up to defend themselves immediately. This stops today, through cooperation or litigation, there will be accountability for the racist, vile environment that you all have allowed.”

Johnson said he was disgusted by this incident, with a white student spitting on black person while at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“Not at the Lincoln or Washington monuments, but where African-Americans are celebrated,” said Johnson. “A total and complete lack of respect, and one of the most degrading acts one can commit against another.”

Clouet stated that school administrators will “deal with this at school.

“But we need the help and support of families,” said Clouet. “Please speak to your own children in an age-appropriate manner about our expectation of how we treat people - black or white, elder or young, or anyone, a child, or adult, may perceive as being different.

“Shelton schools and the Shelton community can do better. We must,” added Clouet.

This comes on the heels of a recent incident in which a photo was posted on Snapchat of a Shelton Intermediate School student in what appeared to be black face with a racial slur in a tagline.

The girls responsible for the photo apologized — and their written apologies were displayed during a special assembly Friday, Sept. 13, at Shelton Intermediate School. Clouet said the assembly — which gathered the entire school population and featured a “well-crafted” PowerPoint presentation, during which a detailed history and meaning of blackface in the African American community was shown — was a “teachable moment.” Clouet said, while some know the students involved, others do not, so the girls were not identified during the assembly.

But Johnson said the school’s reaction was inadequate, and his organization held a Pack the Shelton Board of Education Rally & Meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Shelton Board of Education offices, 382 Long Hill Avenue, calling for steps to curb the racial divide in the city.

“Why are we here again?” asked Johnson. “Not two weeks ago I said if acts of disrespect and hate towards black students by white students are not addressed the hatred and disrespect will fester and grow worse at an NAACP rally at the very school whom harbor this hatred with no consequences. Guess what? This is pretty close to as bad as it gets.

“Who raises and nurtures children who are comfortable enough to go to a historic black landmark and be foul, disrespectful and oblivious of how hurtful and hateful their behavior is?” asked Johnson.