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FOX61 Follow: Hamden parents demand change after 5th graders reportedly cast as slaves in play

HAMDEN — Parents in Hamden are demanding answers after they say children were casts as slaves in a fifth-grade play.  A demonstration by parents is schedu...

HAMDEN -- Parents in Hamden are demanding answers after they say children were casts as slaves in a fifth-grade play. 

A demonstration by parents is scheduled for Thursday morning in front of the school, West Wood Elementary. Parents are calling for a change in how the school district handles racism.

The demonstration comes after a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night where parents expressed their anger. They said casting children as slaves was not the way to teach about that time period.

West Wood Elementary said the teacher involved has now been placed on a short leave of absence. But, parents said there is a bigger issue inside the school district when it comes to dealing with racism.

One parent had told FOX61 that their biracial daughter was cast as one of the slaves. They said the other child who was cast as a slave was a person of color.

Mayor Curt Leng  said the Board of Education will be working with the equality committee to address parent's concerns:

“I attended tonight’s Board of Education Equity Committee meeting because I was concerned about the incident. Being a diverse and inclusive community is one of Hamden’s primary strengths, and when an issue arises that doesn’t fit this core principle of the school system and Town, I want to hear about it. I trust the Board of Education leadership, and especially this wonderfully proactive Equity Committee, to work with all involved to address the concerns swiftly and to ensure that we learn from this situation moving forward. I want to thank everyone who came out tonight and spoke their minds, shared their experiences and advice. I look forward to a continued dialogue that will lead to positive change.”

Hamden Public Schools had issued a statement on its website, saying in part:

"The teacher's use of this play about slavery raised serious concerns that are currently being investigated by the district's human resources department, and appropriate legal counsel."

The demonstration is set to take place at West Wood Elementary School around 8:15 a.m.