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White student spit on black visitor at African American History Museum on school trip, officials say

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A middle school in Connecticut is capturing widespread attention after officials said one of its students spit on a black visitor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture during a recent class trip.

Chris Clouet, the superintendent of Shelton Public Schools, confirmed in a Facebook post on Friday that a group of students from the Shelton Intermediate School was recently “thrown out of the Smithsonian’s highly regarded African American History Museum” because a white male student “spit on a Black visitor at the museum.” 

“This kind of action is not a reflection of who our students are, or who we are as a community. This is not the time or place to talk about consequences. But this is now, regrettably, a pattern of behavior that is disrespectful and does not serve anyone well —including the student who acted inappropriately and embarrassed himself and his school,” the superintendent said.

The school official went on to say that the situation will be dealt with “at school” but also added that parents should speak to their “own children in an age-appropriate manner about our expectation of how we treat people.”

Clouet told BuzzFeed News that the student was sent back home during the trip shortly after the incident.

While the superintendent told the publication that he was uncertain about whether the incident was racially-motivated, he said that “too often incidents are covered over by claiming it’s only a joke.” 

In a since-deleted tweet, Dina Marks, the principal at the Connecticut middle school, called the incident “an act of stupidity, disinterest, & immaturity, completely inappropriate,” but added she did not believe it was “racially motivated against that person.” 

“Our kids are not bad people,” she also tweeted, according to BuzzFeed. “We are all pretty sad tonight.”

Marks’ profile also appears to have since been deleted as of Sunday afternoon.

The incident prompted backlash from a local civil rights leader who told the Hartford Courant who said he believes the incident amounted to more than just horseplay given where it occurred.

Greg Johnson, the president of the Ansonia Valley NAACP, pointed out that the boy “didn’t spit on anyone at the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial.”

“A total and complete lack of respect and one of the most degrading acts one can commit against another,” he also said, adding: “It’s an embarrassment not only to Shelton, but to Connecticut.”

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