FRAMINGHAM – A Framingham elementary school awarded a first grade boy “Student of the Week,” a week after the boy called a classmate the “n-word” on a school bus.
Framingham Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay said “racism is not tolerated” in his schools.
He said it was “bad timing” for the first grade Stapleton Elementary School to receive the teacher recognition, for work he had done in his classroom unrelated to the incident that happened on a school bus between him and a girl in his class.
On January 11, the mother, whom Source has chosen not to identify to protect the child, said her daughter and her older sister got off the school bus unhappy.
“They told their dad that a boy on the bus was using sexual language and gestures, and when my 1st grader asked him to stop he called her a F$#%ing Nxxxxx,” said the mother.
The mother said she called the school that day.
She later had a meeting with the vice principal of the school, and the mother of the boy who used the racial slur.
But to make matters worse, the mother of the girl said her daughter was upset that a week after the boy called her daughter the “n-word,” he was recognized by the school on Friday, January 19, with an award.
Tremblay, said this morning, January 24, that the boy has written an apology note and it will go home to parents of the girl today.
He said he has spoken to school adminstration to look at their procedures when it comes to PBIS (positive behavior intervention system) awards.
“The award was for a classroom-based initiative tied to honesty,” said Tremblay. “It was completely unrelated to what happened on the school bus, but I understand how it was perceived as supporting a negative action. We need to look at our procedures, so that this does not happen again.”
“I would like to also recognize again that the timing of the Student of the Week recognition was perceived as reinforcing a previous negative action that occurred on the school bus,” said Director of Elementary Education Amy Bright, who is the former Principal at Stapleton Elementary, in an email to the parents of the girl, today.
Bright told the parents because of that, they have made changes at the school to support their daughter.
Last week, the mother said “every black person remembers the first tme they are called that word.” She said that incident has robbed her daughter of some of her innocence.
Today, she said she is happy to see the school apologizing for the mistakes made, and making corrective actions.
Tremblay said there were consequences for the word the boy said, and the school put them in place.
“Just because we don’t announce the consequences to the public, does not mean there are no consequences. We need to protect the child and we don’t make any consequences public for any action regarding a student,” said Tremblay.
“The child has taken responsibility for his action,” said Tremblay. “He is owning his mistake. He apologized for the mistake.”
The superintendent said this incident is a chance for “every one to learn.”
While a child may be making certain progress in the classroom, we need to consider circumstances outside a classroom when considering giving an award to a student, said Tremblay.
“The two were not related,” but “things could have been done better on our part.”
Tremblay stressed again that racism is not tolerated in the school and in the school district.
He said we plan to have conversations about racism in this school and in the district.
The mother told Source today she is happy for the apology from the boy, and email from the the school’s leadership addressing the award issue.
Editor’s Note: This was originally posted on the Framingham Source site yesterday at 2:45 p.m., but due to the upgraded server, I had to re-enter it into the system today, January 25. Several posts that went up yesterday between noon and midnight did not transfer over with the upgrade.