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Suffield parents call for change in town's schools after racial incidents

The Suffield Race Relations Coalition held a rally Friday evening in response to racial incidents they said happened at various schools.

SUFFIELD, Conn. — Calls for change in Suffield. Parents and community members want the school system to address racial incidents they say have happened in and outside of the classroom.

At a rally Friday evening, they detailed racial incidents they say have happened at various schools.

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"As a dad I'm very concerned about my child being traumatized in the school system," said Garry Porter of Suffield.

According to the parents, there have been several incidents in which students have used the "N" word, a Snapchat video circulated also using the word, and students have been called other racial slurs.

"It's very surprising that in 2022 this is happening, now the fact that this happened in the school, that's even more concerning," Porter said.

Fox61 reached out to school officials about these allegations. In a statement the Board of Ed said:

"The Suffield Board of Education believes that all students must be provided a safe and welcoming environment in our schools.  We do not and will not stand for racism or discrimination against any group and our Board goals and policies support this fundamental belief."

The superintendent's office also sent a statement that reads:

"The Suffield Public Schools will continue to focus our efforts on student programming, professional learning for our faculty and staff, as well as, thoroughly reviewing our existing policies and practices to ensure our schools are safe and welcoming environments for all students.  We look forward to partnering with our parents and community members as we look to the future."

"It does start in our schools and they do have a responsibility to help to make it a welcoming environment for all students and not just to say it in words but to do it in their actions," said Cassandre Victor-Vega of Suffield.

Concerned parents said they want schools to be safe learning environments for everyone and laid out the changes they want to see.

"I think the first thing the school needs to do is sit down with the parents. Particularly parents of children affected by this issue," Porter said.

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"We need transparency in the community. We all need to know what's going on. We all live here, we all pay taxes here," Victor-Vega said.

Many recognized it won't be easy and it won't be overnight.

"I know all too well that ending racism takes generational changes in our society, our families, our home, our culture," Victor-Vega said.

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However, they said it is worth fighting for.

"I don't look like what I've been through growing up in Suffield," said Sonia Hill of Suffield.

The Greater Hartford NAACP showed its support for the rally. Archbishop Dexter C. Burke released a statement that can be read in full below.

Credit: Greater Hartford NAACP

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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