Hundreds turned out Thursday for a tough conversation after the Pittsford School District was rocked by allegations of racism. The district, the town, and the village hosted the meeting about racism in the community to a packed house.
Superintendent Michael Pero and other school leaders have been reaching out to students the past number of weeks to gauge school climate. He says recent discussions with students and alumni were eye-opening.
“Their experiences in our school system…isn’t always what we thought it was,” says Pero.
Two recent incidents, one a Black History month display showcasing white historical figures, the other a heated track meet that had racial slurs uttered, prompted this roundtable. Although, one teacher told WROC those are just two of multiple racial episodes. Some students say the roundtable is a welcome sight, and it’s great to be heard…but it’s taken a while.
“It’s important that everyone gets heard, but it’s heartbreaking that it’s been so long that we’ve gotten…that’s it has taken to get to this point,” says student Alyssa Coleman.
Ruby Taylor says, “It’s hard not feeling recognized. In the summit today, we really got to hear each other and we got to hear our own voices, those words said back to us that we matter and we care and people are listening.”
“People are actually listening to us and administrators are trying to listen to us, hear our stories and are trying to change,” adds Lluvia Ayal-Pound.
A parent says with this forum, he was exposed to stories and perspectives he otherwise would not have known. “We have no other way of finding this stuff out and it’s heartbreaking,” says Michael Delgado.
Pero says they’re developing a new disciplinary plan to respond to these types of incidents, meanwhile he says if you see something, say something. “We talk about if you see something, say something as it relates to heath and safety. This is health and safety.”