Brooklyn prep school still struggles to address racial problems after viral blackface video
Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School is working to clean up its image after the tiny private school came under fire when a racist video made the rounds on social media starring two of its students in offensive blackface.
Although the two students are reportedly no longer at the school, administrators are still struggling to address the videos and the school culture in a series of meetings with parents, students, school administrators and staff.
The NY Daily News learned, however, that the Poly Prep school has been under fire before regarding two previous incidents at the all-male, all-white school two years ago.
According to the outlet, on May 3, 2017, vandals spray-painted racist messages on school walls, including a swastika and the N-word.
Some 48 hours after that incident, the outlet reported, the head of the school Audrius Barzdukas issued this statement:
“On Wednesday evening, we discovered graffiti on the windows of the Student Center at the Dyker Heights campus that included crude and offensive language and imagery,” wrote Barzdukas. “We immediately closed the center and our maintenance staff removed the writing and drawings.”
However, no one was reprimanded for the racist graffiti and many parents didn’t think enough was done to address the matter. The school however said they could not identify the culprit, even after a month-long investigation.
Then in March 2018, a Black eighth-grade student was reportedly ordered to leave the school because he reportedly stole something from the commissary and a fellow student’s jacket.
The student admitted taking a snack from the commissary but said taking the student’s jacket was an accident.
The student wrote Barzdukas and said he felt like he was targeted because he was Black. He asked if he could remain at the school. He was still asked to leave. There was a protest held against his ouster.
The boy’s mother told the New York Daily News that the school has a racist history that’s deep-rooted.
“I don’t want him back at the school,” said the mom, who asked to remain anonymous.
“I just don’t want any other child of color to suffer at a school where they’re not heard,” she added.
Poly Prep officials claims they are planning to address their problems by securing an outside firm to address issues of race and to study and report on diversity. They have also developed a task force to address and ensure equity in student discipline.
“We do not tolerate racism or prejudice in our school or in our communities,” Barzdukas wrote in a statement. “We embrace our students’ desire for positive change and support their thoughtfulness in delivering their messages.”