An elementary school principal in Pennsylvania was disciplined for dressing up as “Family Feud” host Steve Harvey for a staff event, though it’s unclear what the punishment entailed.
Friendship Elementary School principal Lisa Boyer donned a men’s suit, costume cap, fake mustache and dark make-up on her face to portray Harvey, who is black, for a staff team-building exercise last summer, but a picture recently posted on Twitter is now sparking public backlash, the York Dispatch reports.
@sam_ruland The principal at Friendship Elementary school in Glen Rock pa held a meeting in black face. This is not ok! The superintendent is a good friend of hers and did nothing about it.. Name Lisa Boyer pic.twitter.com/gUMQrM4bL7
— Danny Boyce (@TheCoachesPick) January 21, 2019
The Twitter post came from a former food service employee, who alleged “The principal at Friendship Elementary school in Glen Rock pa held a meeting in black face.
“This is not ok!” Danny Boyce, wrote. “The superintendent is a good friend of hers and did nothing about it. . Name Lisa Boyer”
The social media post prompted a letter to the community from Southern York County School District Superintendent Sandra Lemmon to set the record straight.
Lemmon explained that the incident occurred on August 20, when students were not in school, and district officials swiftly took action.
“The District Administration was advised of the principal’s appearance later that same day by teachers that recognized the offensive nature of darkening her face as part of the costume,” the statement read. “The incident was immediately investigated.”
Lemmon wrote “the principal was disciplined” after the investigation, but did not specify what the punishment was. District officials and the school board also reviewed the district’s nondiscrimination policies with Boyer, who apologized to the staff and developed “further steps to increase a greater sense of diversity awareness,” according to the superintendent.
“The Administration and the Board took this situation very seriously and continue to strive every day to improve and support cultural awareness within our schools,” Lemmon wrote. “Please know we value all members of our diverse population and believe it is this diversity that will allow us to grow as a District and community.”
Sandra Thompson, head of the York NAACP, told WHTM the incident reflects a lack of understanding about the history of blackface, though she’s encouraged that district officials reached out to include the organization and others in its diversity committee.
“The history of blackface has always been entertainment to white people. That form of entertainment has always been viewed as hurtful and demeaning to black people,” she said, adding that increasing sensitivity training and diversity are important to preventing similar problems in the future.
“We have to have more diversity so people have greater understanding and sensitivity because I bet if a person of color was in that room, she would have thought twice,” Thompson told WHTM.