A Pinellas County elementary school principal is apologizing for an email went out to staff members, which listed class guidelines. One of those guidelines – keep white students in the same class.
The note went out from Campbell Park Principal Christine Hoffman to the school’s instructional staff on Tuesday. The email is below.
We contacted the school, who provided us with the apology the principal sent to the staff.
I would like to follow up on my meeting with teachers on Tuesday regarding class lists and the poor judgment I used in an e-mail that went to all our teachers and para professionals. In taking time to reflect on my actions, I felt it was important to write to all of you and share my thoughts. I made a mistake, and I am sorry.
I hope you know from our work together all year how dedicated I am to our students, our families and the success of our school. I value diversity, and the e-mail I wrote does not represent my commitment to our students and our school community.
Thank you for your support of our students and families as we continue our work. Please speak with me if you have any further questions or concerns.
I will be available Friday morning in the media center from 7:30 am to 9:00 am for any staff member that would like to come and speak to me about this.
Is an apology enough? 10 News spoke with the president of the NAACP St. Pete branch who says she was in shock when she saw the memo.
" At first I didn't believe it. I had to make sure it was true. Then when it was, I was in disbelief. I mean it shows you still today what we are dealing with in the 21st century," said Maria Scruggs, president of the NAACP St. Pete Branch.
Scruggs also says that the apology is not enough. She has reached out to the superintendent and is waiting to speak with him.
Below is a letter that will be going home with students today.
April 21, 2017
You are receiving this letter because I would like to provide information regarding action I took in planning for next school year.
As a white woman leading a predominately black school, I am approaching this as an opportunity to learn. Although I have participated in training on diversity and implicit bias, this recent incident makes it clear that I need to seek additional opportunities to apply racial sensitivity and cultural competence in my work. I want all of my actions and decisions as principal to only strengthen and unite our school as we meet the needs of our students.
Because I value transparent communication, I would like to provide information on what happened. I sent teachers an e-mail Tuesday morning with guidelines for creating class lists for next school year. Immediately after I sent the e-mail, I met with teachers to review the guidelines and answer questions.
The guidelines included a statement on assigning white students together, and I explained in the meeting that I was asking that there not be a class with only one white student. I was not asking that all white students in each grade be clustered, as that is not our practice in creating class lists. I understand how racially insensitive the guideline was.
I will be available in the media center on Monday, April 24th from 7:30-8:30 am and then again from 3:40-4:40pm. Please come see me if you would like to discuss this matter.
I sincerely apologize for what I did because I care deeply about our students and families. I remain dedicated to your child’s academic achievement.
Reporter Jennifer Titus is following this story for 10News today. Watch for her report coming up on 10News beginning at 5pm.