Parents concerned over student presentation in South Hadley

Parents concerned over student presentation in South Hadley
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 8:15 PM EST
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SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -SOUTH HADLEY, MA (WGGB/WSHM)-- A viewer reached out to our newsroom, expressing concerns over a student presentation at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley. It was put on by the school’s Black Student Union in February and now they said a poster relating to police brutality remains up on the wall at the school.

Parents who have kids at the school are calling for change to be made, including the removal of that poster.

A viewer who wishes to remain anonymous told us she was shocked by a presentation that occurred at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, involving the school’s Black Student Union. She sent us this photo of a poster, we’ve blurred out the profanity, shared during the presentation in February that she says is still hanging up in the school as of Friday.

“I would like it taken down and I think there needs to be more education around this whole topic that Police aren’t bad people,” said the anonymous mother.

Western Mass News reached out to the interim executive director of the school who told us in a statement in part quote:

“Last month our Black Student Union BSU produced a show in honor of Black History Month. During the show, students read poems, sang songs, and told the stories of Black Americans who have contributed greatly to our society along with some whose lives have been taken unjustly at the hands of law enforcement.”

The parent we spoke to tells us her daughter was texting her while the presentation was happening at the school last month explained what she was watching.

“She texts me and she’s like oh my god mom you’re not going to believe this they just had a picture of blue lives murder…She went on to tell me that they had a dance performance, and the girls came out in full face white masks,” she said.

Another anonymous viewer shared a photo with us of those white face masks that were worn during the performance.

The poster in question, focused on police brutality, is among the artwork from the presentation, hung up around the school.

Interim Executive Director Brent Nielsen did share a letter with us that was sent to the school community about this saying in part-quote:

“One student from the class chose to focus their project on N.W.A’s indictment of police brutality and racial injustice. They chose to create a poster with images of victims of police brutality from the past decade along with information about their lives and how they lost them at the hands of police.”

Some parents are worried about the message that the performance and poster could be sharing.

“I know that they are supporting all races, all genders and all of that I understand that I get that, but I don’t understand them teaching our kids that it’s okay to disrespect law enforcement,” said an anonymous mother.

The school also adding in their statement:

“PVPA is committed to supporting students to engage in social advocacy amplifying the voices of marginalized groups and promoting social justice. We support students to lean into uncomfortable conversations on topics identified as urgent and relevant to our community.”