Racism discussion continues in Amherst schools - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Racism discussion continues in Amherst schools

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After a year battling several racial incidents in the Amherst school district, a quorum of Amherst Regional School Committee members met Monday night and voted unanimously to fault their chair's decision to reprimand one of their members for allegedly calling a student a racist.

Vice Chair of the committee Trevor Baptiste called Monday's meeting after learning three chairs of school committees governing Amherst school district sent a memo to Amilcar Shabazz, Amherst Regional School Committee member and chair of the Equity Task Force, accusing him of referring to a student as a racist during a public meeting ETF last month.

"I want to get to recognizing that we all have our children's best interest and community's best interest at heart and I don't believe that anyone on our committee does not," Baptiste said.

He and those in the quorum Monday night questioned the chairmen's right to deliver the memo without consent from the full board during an open meeting.

"What we wanted to do was discuss something that we felt the whole committee should discuss and not just the chairs of the committee should do on their own," said Richard Hood, a committee member.

In the memo sent on July 3 the chairmen write that Dr. Shabazz risked violating the privacy rights of the students when speaking about "an incident which occurred this spring when secondary students of color decided to identify and beat up the greatest student racist they could find."

Shabazz apologized in a packed room in the Pelham library Monday, saying in part, "I profoundly regret how my words were misunderstood. More importantly, however, I would like to apologize to the student and the family that experienced what now has been verified as an unfortunate, violent, traumatic incident."

Shabazz also said tonight that he did not call anyone a racist during the June 18 Equality Task Force meeting.

Amherst Regional School Committee chairman Lawrence O'Brien did not attend the meeting.

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