Mom pulls her children from preschool after alleged blackface incident

In an email obtained by CNN, Patricia Vitale, the owner and director of the Studio Kids Little River preschool, apologized, saying, "We have not intended to offend anyone."

A mother has pulled her children from a Miami preschool following an alleged blackface incident involving its staff.

Courtney Politis told CNN she was shocked and disappointed when, on Feb. 3, a teacher at Studio Kids Little River shared pictures on the school’s messaging app capturing its students wearing blackface in honor of Black History Month.

In response, the network reported, Politis pulled her children, including a year-old daughter, from two separate Studio Kids Little River branches.

Miami preschool - Studio Kids Little River
Courtney Politis made the decision to pull her children from Studio Kids Little River preschool in Miami after a teacher shared photos on the school’s messaging app of students wearing what appeared to be dark paint on their faces. (Photo: Screenshot/ News)

“You’re a certified, established institution, you should know better,” said Politis, whose family has submitted entry applications at other area preschools. “I mean, ignorance on — about racism in 2023 is no longer ignorant, in my opinion.”

Blackface dates back to minstrel shows of the 19th century, when white performers blackened their skin with polish and burned cork to imitate caricatures of Africans in slavery on Southern plantations. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture says the shows portrayed Black people as hypersexual, stupid, lazy or cowardly.

Politis claimed the parent of one of the children, whose face appears covered in dark paint in the images, called her that day and showed her the screenshots, calling them “sickening.”

Even though her children weren’t in the same class, Politis said she was “flabbergasted” and contacted the preschool’s owner to report the incident, then was subsequently questioned about what constituted racism.

Patricia Vitale, the owner and director of the preschool, eventually issued an apology, maintaining she’d learned of a parent’s criticism regarding a Black History Month activity carried out in one classroom.

“We have not intended to offend anyone,” Vitale said in a message obtained by CNN, “and we’re very sorry about any inconvenience.”

Parents received another message from Vitale three days later, in which she informed them that daycare officials met with all the teachers and staff. She said they discussed ethical and multicultural education points, and her team would receive further training in response to the incident.

“You may rest assured this will never happen again,” Vitale added, according to CNN.

Despite Vitale’s latest message, Politis said she felt a duty to protect her children, and the feeling of not being able to do so was probably the most painful and disappointing aspect of the whole ordeal.

“The bottom line is we can’t trust them with our children all apologies aside,” Politis said, CNN reported. “I thought we would have more time before these sorts of things or racism or microaggressions would have to be experienced by our children.”

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