A Connecticut school district is urging parents to talk to their children about their conduct after one of its students spat on a black patron during a field trip to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture last Friday.
According to Shelton Intermediate School principal Dina Marks, a male student spat off a balcony during a school visit, hitting another museum goer-below, BuzzFeed reports. In a now-deleted tweet, Marks called the boy’s act one of “stupidity, disinterest, & immaturity, completely inappropriate.” But, she added, she didn’t think it was “racially motivated against that person.”
The class, which had earlier visited other major Washington D.C. sites, including the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Holocaust Museum, was thrown out of the NMAAHC after the incident.
In a subsequent message posted on Facebook, Chris Clouet, the superintendent of Shelton Public Schools, wrote the student’s actions were “not a reflection of who our students are, or who we are as a community,” but noted that it marked “a pattern of behavior that is disrespectful and does not serve anyone well—including the student who acted inappropriately and embarrassed himself and his school.”
“We need the help and support of families,” Clouet continued. “Please speak to your own children in an age-appropriate manner about our expectation of how we treat people: Black or White, elder or young, or anyone, a child (or adult!) may perceive as being different.”
Clouet assured BuzzFeed News the middle school student would face “school-based disciplinary action.” He also declined to definitively assign intent to the child’s actions, noting, “too often incidents are covered over by claiming it’s only a joke.”
The NMAAHC has yet to comment publicly about the incident, but the Ansonia Valley NAACP spoke out about the incident to the Hartford Courant on Friday.
Chapter president Greg Johnson isn’t buying that it was just child’s play, pointing out that the kid didn’t spit on anyone at the other sites. Johnson also stressed the personal and gruesome nature of the act of spitting on someone, describing it as “a total and complete lack of respect and one of the most degrading acts one can commit against another.”
Johnson added, “it’s an embarrassment not only to Shelton, but to Connecticut.”