Staff members from a Connecticut school district are calling on additional discipline for a magnet school principal who was recently demoted and removed from her position after allegedly using a racial slur.
Earlier this month, the New Haven Board of Education voted 4-3 to reassign Brennan-Rogers Magnet School Principal Laura Roblee from her position after she allegedly used the racial slur this winter during a workshop on racism and inclusion.
According to reports, Roblee is being assigned as an assistant principal at a different district school.
However, the demotion and public outcry wasn’t enough for all district employees, as 30 teachers and staff members signed a newly released letter expressing their disappointment in the discipline that was doled out.
“We are disappointed in the lack of support given to our staff and Assistant Principal, Ms. Karissa Stolzman, with the investigation trying to sweep this racist act under the rug, and with the decision to transfer Mrs. Roblee to another school without completing a full investigation and understanding the true impact of her harm,” they wrote.
According to the staff members, they were not given the full details of the event after Roblee was put on temporary leave for what was described as “an alleged incident.”
“The staff in direct contact with the harm were only provided with a quick and impersonal email,” they wrote. “No one called them and asked to hear what actually happened.
“They were asked three vague questions and there was no follow-up to their concerns, even when they called and emailed requesting a follow-up conversation. The fact that (Schools Superintendent Ilene) Tracey called the investigation ‘thorough,’ is discouraging and offensive.”
The letter also took a shot at Tracey for calling the incident “a slip of the tongue.”
“When you preface a racial slur with the comment, ‘between us white women,’ you know you are intentionally about to say something you think will be safe in the company of like-skinned women,” they said.
“She was wrong. Her words were not a mistake. This was not her first time using the racial slur.”
They added: “In addition to the racial slur, there have been recorded complaints about Mrs. Roblee’s demeanor, character, actions, and the way she speaks to staff members and students since she arrived at Brennan three years ago. Complaints have been reported to their respective unions and have been documented. “
The letter was also critical of district officials for failing to provide any counseling or support “to deal with the traumatic event.”
“No one came to our school and asked us, the staff, who was harmed by Mrs. Roblee, what happened, or what we needed in order to feel supported throughout this process.”
The faculty and staff members went on to praise Stolzman, who was forced to step up following Roblee’s demotion.
“She was given no true support or guidance, but was asked to take on the responsibility of principalship in the middle of a proverbial sea storm and barely given a lifejacket to survive. Not only has she survived, but she has helped our buildings THRIVE,” they wrote.
“She has transformed our culture and climate in a way very few people have done before her,” they added. “She has created trusting relationships, and staff, students and families alike, finally feel safe and welcomed in our buildings.”
The staff members concluded by questioning the district’s decision on Roblee’s discipline.
“We ask you to ponder this— are we truly a culturally inclusive and restorative district if we don’t face and address harm when it is committed, but instead, hide the conflict, gaslight the community and shuffle the perpetrator to another school to continue causing harm?
“We implore you to reflect on your actions, word choices, and the decision you made without all facts present, so the next time harm like this occurs, you will be able to handle it in a truly restorative way for all stakeholders, not just the offender.”
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