Shameful Treatment - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1779779

Shameful Treatment

I write this letter in response to Desirée Keegan’s article [“Westhampton Beach School Board President Calls Parent A Bully During Board Meeting,”, May 12]. As a parent of children at Westhampton Beach High School, I found the behavior of our Board of Education President Sue Mensch extremely disappointing.

Similarly troubling were subsequent comments by Superintendent Michael Radday intimating that the parent had violated school policy when she raised her concerns about bias and discrimination in the district.

I watched the entire exchange. The parent was in no way abusive or bullying. She was asking questions about the incidents of discrimination in the district that were reported in an earlier news article [“Student Refuses To Stand For Pledge In Westhampton Beach To Protest Perceived Systemic Racism In District,”, April 21]. Rather than deal with those issues — such as a recent text sent to the entire volleyball team by a player, of a man dressed in a KKK robe and hood, with a Black man sitting next to him, smiling — Ms. Mensch expressed anger at the parent.

It was shocking and embarrassing that a School Board member would behave in this way toward a parent. Not dissimilar to prior meetings, when these issues have been raised, the board president has become rude or dismissive to the parent and/or directed them to the social justice committee, which was created after concerns about discrimination were raised in the district.

However, after many months now, the social justice committee appears to have no voice or power to enact any change. To my knowledge, the committee has not issued any public report, has not spoken representatively at any board meeting, nor has it developed any solution voted upon at a board meeting. It would appear that the social justice committee has no real power or purpose other than to redirect parents who raise these concerns.

I believe Ms. Mensch and the entire board owe the parent an apology for the shameful way she was treated, and our community deserves a real answer to the question asked about the ongoing allegations of bias and discrimination in the district. It’s time to seriously discuss, at the School Board level, how to change the culture, perhaps by leveraging ongoing incidents of racism and discrimination as teachable moments and providing training to teachers and administrators on how to proactively create change — rather than lashing out at parents asking the hard questions.

Melissa Sidor

Westhampton Beach