MONROEVILLE, Pa. – Parents are calling for the removal of Monroeville Local Schools’ superintendent and assistant superintendent over a “Diversity Day” message many believe is fueling racial tensions.
Officials at Gateway High School announced plans for a “Diversity Day” after a series of student fights this year, the most recent involving two high school students at a local park last Tuesday, WTAE reports.
After that fight, rumors circulated that “any white child wearing black clothing will be targeted,” parent Lisa Petrosky told the news site, and school officials attempted to quell concerns in a Facebook post and identical email to parents that many believe only made matters worse.
According to WTAE, the school’s message sent Thursday read:
Tomorrow, our Gateway High School students and staff will be wearing their Gator Pride shirts to come together to celebrate our pride in diversity. Some students are even wearing their Black Lives Matter T-shirts.
The district is aware of rumors circulating that stem from a fight that occurred outside of school two days ago. Please be advised that the district has investigated the rumors, which have been determined to be unfounded.
Please join us in our celebration … Go Gators!
Numerous angry responses to the post on Facebook convinced school officials to remove it, but the fallout forced the school board to hold an emergency meeting Friday for parents to air their grievances, WPXI reports.
“The email, the phone call, the post: Y’all made it worse,” one parent told the school board, which refused to answer questions about who wrote the message or created the Diversity Day.
Hundreds of students did not attend classes at Gateway High School Friday out of fear about the rumors, according to media reports.
“Whoever gave you the idea that saying nothing up here was a good idea gave you really bad advice,” another parent told the board, according to the news site.
“My daughter doesn’t want to go here anymore,” said another parent. “She wants to go to cyber-school.”
School board members were apologetic about the message to parents, and issued a statement that four students were suspended for making threats regarding the rumored attacks on white students wearing black shirts.
“We fully admit that we dropped the ball,” board member Chad Stubenbort said. “We need to look into why the email was sent out. I believe from that email further problems were created.”
Gateway spokeswoman Cara Zanella said the rumors about attacks on white students with black shirts prompted the message to parents, and they overreacted.
“People took it out of context,” she said. “They were doing a Gator pride day. They were wearing T-shirts for different things people want to do at Gateway. That’s pretty much all it was. We didn’t mean to cause any problems with that. We do not support any political movement.”