Easthampton mayor apologizes after alleged offensive comment
EASTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The mayor of Easthampton has issued an apology following allegations of a racially insensitive comment she made to members of the Easthampton High School’s civics competition team.
“The incident was basically the mayor at a training presentation with our ‘We The People’ group, whose multiple time state and national champions and headed down there soon, so they were training in preparation for the national event coming up,” said Easthampton School Committee member Marin Goldstein.
Goldstein explained to Western Mass News what had occurred between the Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and a member of the Easthampton High School’s nationally ranked civics competition team, also known as ‘We The People.’
“The mayor made a comment, from her comments now that I heard was that she was trying to give positive feedback, but came across from the students and parents perspective as certainly racially insensitive to a person of color talking about white voice,” Goldstein explained.
Western Mass News reached out to LaChappelle, who told us in a statement in part:
“I visited with high school students last week to help celebrate their participation in an upcoming competition. During my visit, I made comments that I had intended to motivate students of color. However, the statements had the opposite effect and offended a student instead. Upon learning that I had offended the student, I immediately agreed to meet with the student and the student’s family, who explained to me why my comments offended them. And I listened.”
She went onto say:
“I acknowledged that I had made a mistake, and I issued a letter to the student and the student’s family apologizing for the mistake that I made. I cannot stress enough that I want to be an ally for students of color. I did not mean to offend the student, but I did. I take ownership of that mistake and, as an ally, pledge to do better.”
According to the LaChapelle’s office manager, the mayor has been out of the country since April 7. Goldstein told us the committee has been working with students and the parents involved following the incident.
“I can say we have already done a number of circles engaging the students and other people involved and have been in extensive comment with the parents about the situation. Certainly, we have been dealing with it immediately not just passively,” Goldstein explained.
Easthampton Public Schools Supt. Allison Leclair also told us in a statement, in part:
“I am aware of the allegations that have been brought against the mayor about racist and inappropriate comments made in our high school. The school committee will investigate this complaint. As for the Easthampton Public Schools, we have worked hard over the last several years to create a safe and inclusive environment.”
Goldstein told us the investigation remains ongoing as the school committee awaits the mayor’s return.
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