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Old 01-31-2019, 12:16 PM
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Default District accused of downplaying teacher’s ‘blackface’ Steve Harvey costume

https://nypost.com/2019/01/31/distri...arvey-costume/

District accused of downplaying teacher’s ‘blackface’ Steve Harvey costume
By Joshua Rhett Miller
January 31, 2019 | 2:38pm | Updated

Show me incredibly insensitive!

A school district in Pennsylvania is defending its response to a principal who wore blackface to appear as “Family Feud” host Steve Harvey during a team-building exercise, saying the incident was not “swept under the rug,” as some critics suggest.

Lisa Boyer, principal of Friendship Elementary School in Glen Rock, was photographed in August wearing a man’s suit, a stocking over her head, a fake mustache and facial makeup to darken her skin while portraying Harvey before a room full of colleagues — all of whom were white , according to the district’s superintendent — during a staff-only meeting, the York Daily Record reports.

“No students were present in the school on this day since it was a staff in-service day,” Southern York County School District Superintendent Sandra Lemmon said in a statement to the newspaper. “The principal had the staff play a game based upon the television show ‘Family Feud,’ and she dressed up as the show’s host, Steve Harvey.”

Administrators learned of Boyer’s costume later that day and launched an investigation. Boyer was later disciplined and apologized to staffers who attended the meeting, which was described by Lemmon as a team-building exercise.

“The central office administration also made clear to the principal that such conduct violated both the letter and the spirit of the School District’s nondiscrimination policies,” Lemmon’s statement continued. “This matter was not ‘swept under the rug,’ it was promptly addressed — and it was made clear that this incident was inappropriate within the school setting.”

Staffers also found tweets by a former food contractor who accused district officials of trying to sweep the incident “under the rug,” Lemmon told the newspaper. In another tweet, a resident of Glen Rock identified Boyer while dressed in “blackface” during the meeting.

The district’s investigation included interviews of the staff members who attended the exercise, all of whom were white, Lemmon said.

“They shared that they were surprised,” she told the newspaper. “And they shared very openly that they did not believe that her intent was to offend in any way.”

Lemmon declined to specify on Boyer’s punishment, characterizing the matter as a personnel issue.

Boyer, meanwhile, has said she regrets dressing up as Harvey, although she insists she didn’t mean to insult anyone.

“I deeply regret my decision and have learned from it,” Boyer said in a statement to the York Daily Record. “Even though I did not have ill intent, my poor choice was addressed by both the administrative team and school board. On top of those repercussions, I publicly apologized to staff and met with some parents as well.”

Boyer did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

But some critics said Boyer’s apology and the district’s feedback stopped short of an appropriate response, including the executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

“This teacher as an educator has to know that putting on blackface is beyond absurd,” Chad Dion Lassiter told the York Daily Record. “It is racially insensitive. White privilege allowed the principal to not see anything that she did was racially insensitive, and what follows is a continuation of a hollow apology.”

In a letter sent home to parents Thursday, Lemmon reiterated the district’s response to the incident, adding that Boyer has voluntarily agreed to take additional steps to “increase a greater sense of diversity” awareness.

“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,” read the statement, which was obtained by The Post. “Please know we value all members of our diverse populations and believe it is this diversity that will allow us to grow as a district and community.”
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