• Fri. Aug 5th, 2022

Piedmont school district apologizes for offering ‘white student support group’ after Chauvin’s verdict – CBS San Francisco

PIEDMONT (CNN) – An East Bay school district has apologized after an attempt to support students following Derek Chauvin’s trial backfired when an assistant superintendent sent an email inviting “white students” to discuss the trial and death of George Floyd.

The email, titled “White Student Support Group” was sent by the deputy superintendent of the Piedmont Unified School District to students at two high schools in the district the day after Chauvin’s conviction by Minnesota jurors on April 20. The email offered a “Community Restorative Circle … to support white college students who would like to discuss the impact of the trial, verdict, and experiences of George Floyd’s murder on you.” “

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Similar meeting emails were also sent to black students and native students and other students of color, not just white students.
After sending the email, three college students – an Asian, an African American, and a white – posted videos on TikTok asking why white college students needed help.

Following criticism of her grade, Deputy Superintendent Cheryl Wozniak emailed an apology on April 22, explaining that the Circle of Support for White Students was supposed to explain how white students could be “allies.” people of color.

“I did not specify that the proposed circle … is for those who want to be allies of BIPOC,” Wozniak wrote. “I sincerely apologize for the lack of sensitivity in my communication and invite anyone affected to contact me directly so that I can make amends for the harm I have caused.”

Two teachers in charge of Circles of Support also sent an email explaining that the meeting was aimed at teaching white students how to be an ally. “This was not to provide a space for processing because institutions controlled and designed by whites are the ones doing harm,” they wrote.

Superintendent Randall Booker acknowledged the outcry in a statement on behalf of the district: “The wrong choice of words in the subject line of the invitation to white students led to the perception that white students needed the same type of “support” that our BIPOC students. Students of all racial backgrounds have rightly rejected this idea. We agree and want to state in the strongest terms that our commitment is to give all students a place to express their feelings and learn to engage in important issues.

Don Barrett, a 16-year-old junior and a member of the Piedmont High School football team, said, “The concept of teaching white people how to be an ally seemed strange to me. “

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“I feel like we are a very good community and anyone affected (by the trial) could have talked about it together,” he told CNN. “I have friends from all different ethnicities and we can talk about this stuff together.”
Barrett, whose mother is white and father black, said: “I felt like we were apart. How could they even tell people that they can’t go in one circle? “

He plans to attend the White Support Circle when it takes place in June.

Administrators are now working with staff and students to address concerns over the language of email, while also identifying better ways to provide education and support on racial equity in the future.

Group discussions for students of color took place as planned. However, the meeting for white students, renamed the Circle of Allies, has been postponed, according to Booker.

Going forward, the district is not giving up on the idea of ​​circles of support but will offer circles open to all to give students from different backgrounds a chance to deal together, according to Booker’s statement. In the two meetings that took place, Wozniak, who is white, apologized directly to the participating students and listened to their thoughts on how she can improve as a leader, according to Booker.

A group discussion for school staff took place on Thursday, and another is scheduled for the first week of June, according to Booker.

The school district is part of the town of Piedmont, which is completely surrounded by the city of Oakland with a population of 11,135, according to the Census Bureau. The school district has about 2,700 students, of whom about 74% are white, 20% Asian, 3% Hispanic, and 3% black.

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