SOUTHINGTON -Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan says the newly formed Southington Public Schools Coalition for Social Justice will aim to promote cultural sensitivity, awareness, equity and access.
Connellan said the committee’s 30 to 35 members will include parents, students, community organizations, town staff, and representatives from the Capitol Region Education Council and the State Education Resource Center.
The coalition was created in response to a the posting of a video threatening violence against African Americans by a Southington High School student last December.
“A number of issues came to light when that horrendous video was published by a student,” said Connellan. “This group will review school curriculum and materials to come up with actionable outcomes. We will see what we need to do to better respond to the needs of culturally diverse students.”
At Monday’s Town Council meeting, Councilor Tom Lombardi, who is a member of the coalition, said that the new group will be having its first meeting March 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at DePaolo Middle School, 385 Pleasant St.
“I was shaken up, like everyone else, a few months ago when that incident occurred,” said Lombardi. “I think everyone agrees that there is no room for hate in the community. We will do what we can to combat it.”
Connellan suggested that a component of the coalition’s work would also be to make the community aware of “how demographics have changed.” There will also be an effort to ensure that teachers are more “culturally aware.”
“Our schools do a great job in helping to teach students be kind to other people,” said Connellan. “This just means that we are going to be more focused on teaching students what cultural sensitivity really means. This is an area which we haven’t been as specifically focused on in the past. We will try to do the best we can for our school district to ensure that all students have a good understanding of where they stand, regardless of their ethnic or racial background. It is important that our students be culturally competent.”
Lombardi said that he is “open to anything” and is looking forward to seeing what ideas coalition members put forward.
“This initiative is really spearheaded by the schools,” he said. “I will be going in with an open mind, hearing the concerns from teachers, students and parent, absorbing what they say, and bringing it back to the council.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.