Parents speak out over alleged racism at Westport Public Schools in Connecticut

Marcus Solis Image
Saturday, February 17, 2024
Allegations of racism in Westport schools
Marcus Solis has more on allegations of racism towards students that were brought up at a Westport Public School System board meeting.

WESTPORT, Connecticut (WABC) -- The Westport Public School System in Connecticut is facing plenty of heat after some parents spoke out at a school board meeting Thursday, saying their children have been the targets of racism.

Is there a racism problem in Westport, Connecticut? That's the unpleasant question Dr. Carole Felder and her husband are asking.

They are speaking out to the school district's board of education, fed up over racism they say their daughters have faced for years. One example played out during a middle school play rehearsal, they said.

"My seventh grader had a prop gun pointed to the back of her head, and said, 'this is what happens to people your color," Felder said at the board meeting.

Another breaking point came after her high school-aged daughter screenshotted an exchange between someone she considered a friend and that student's boyfriend. The texts were filled with racial epithets and stereotypes.

"There are therapists involved and some other things, to point where they have issues getting up and going to school, wondering what's going to happen," Felder's husband Richard Anderson said.

In December, Eyewitness News profiled parents of a Jewish student who claimed their son was subjected to antisemitism.

Like most districts, Westport says there is a zero-tolerance policy.

In a statement, the superintendent says, "Following an investigation, we take swift, decisive action and those responsible are held accountable."

But not everyone agrees.

"Your policy may look good on paper, but it does not work," Felder said.

During the meeting, an apology was made.

"I want to say sorry and apologize for the experience the Anderson family has gone through," said Robert Harrington of the Westport Board of Education.

The board is promising change. The Andersons are pushing for an anti-bullying and harassment policy with teeth. Instead of in-school suspensions, they would like to see punishment, up to, and including expulsion.


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