A white student from Connecticut spat on a black visitor during a class trip to the National Museum of African American History & Culture – but the incident wasn’t motivated by race, the school’s principal insisted.
The superintendent of Shelton Public Schools said a group of students from Shelton Intermediate School were thrown out of the museum in Washington, DC after a male student “acted inappropriately and embarrassed himself” during the visit on Friday.
“This kind of action is not a reflection of who our students are, or who we are as a community,” Superintendent Chris Clouet wrote on Facebook. “This is not the time or place to talk about consequences.”
A group of 100 students and 12 chaperones were kicked out after incident, Clouet told the Hartford Courant, adding that the student will face unspecified discipline at school.
It’s unclear whether the student’s actions were racially motivated or if it was merely “horseplay,” Clouet told the newspaper.
“Far too often unkind acts in our world are excused because it was ‘only a joke,’” he told the newspaper. “The individual who was spit on may not see it as a joke. I suspect it may have been more rude than racist. Not certain how the visitor to the museum on the receiving end of the act would perceive it.”
But the school’s principal claimed in a since-deleted tweet that the student wasn’t acting out of racial bias.
“It was an act of stupidity, disinterest, & immaturity, completely inappropriate, but I believe not racially motivated against that person,” Principal Dina Marks wrote.
Marks wrote on Twitter later Friday that the students had returned to their hotel rooms after “an unfortunate incident,” BuzzFeed News reported.
“Our kids are not bad people,” Marks wrote. “We are all pretty sad tonight.”
But Greg Johnson, president of the NAACP’s Ansonia Valley chapter, dismissed efforts to characterize the incident as a student simply acting stupid, saying it brought embarrassment to the entire state of Connecticut.
“He didn’t spit on anyone at the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial,” Johnson told the Courant. “A total and complete lack of respect and one of the most degrading acts one can commit against another.”
Messages seeking comment from Clouet and Marks – whose Twitter profile had been deactivated as of Monday – were not immediately returned.
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