The New Castle Area School District superintendent wants to put to rest a matter involving a school board member who appeared in a photo on Facebook at a "Make America Great Again" party.
School board president Stacey Fleo attended the party in her neighborhood last month, hosted by her neighbors, and was one of several people who made a sign for a photo — which also depicted a cardboard cutout of President Donald Trump — that she had explained was to mimic one of the president's idiosyncrasies that he uses when he gives speeches. Regardless of her explanation, several members of the community were offended by the picture, interpreting the hand sign to mean a symbol of white supremacy.
Controversy about the picture erupted during the school board's July meeting, when several community members demanded that Fleo resign from her position, but she has refused to resign.
School district superintendent Debbie DeBlasio said she was contacted by the NAACP about the photo, and she met July 28 and again on Monday with members of the organization, a few school board members including Fleo, and some residents of the community who were offended by the picture. After a lengthy discussion, DeBlasio issued the following statement on behalf of the district:
"The District is committed to providing all students, parents, staff and community members with equal opportunities, regardless of race, color, age, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
"We stand together in unity with all students and families and denounce acts of prejudice, racism, and inequality. In light of the recent situation with board member, Mrs. Fleo, and following her apology, the district recognizes that although there was no intent by Mrs. Fleo to offend or hurt any individual or group, we are deeply sorry. We will continue to move forward by educating, opening conversations and changing the culture.
"The New Castle Area School District is committed to promoting awareness by continuing to enhance and provide sensitivity and diversity training as we move forward.
"Our diversity is our strength, and we will remain steadfast, always striving for improvement of our district and community and upholding the principles of equality for all."