Poor NY Students Forced To Sit In Dark Auditorium While Wealthier Classmates Play Outside At Carnival

One hundred public school students were left upset and crying during school hours as they were ushered into a dark auditorium to watch an old Disney movie as 900 classmates enjoyed popcorn, ice cream, and bouncy castles at a Carnival outside. New York Public School 120 in Queens held their annual Carnival on Friday. However, instead of all of the pre-k through fifth grade students enjoying the fun-filled day, 100 children were left crying in an auditorium after their families were unable to pay for the $10 ticket to the affair.

The New York Post reports that almost all of the 100 children excluded from the event were Chinese immigrants who are simply struggling to “keep their heads above water.” Teachers charged with monitoring the unfortunate children stuck in the dark auditorium say that some of the children were crying hysterically as they could hear the laughter from the children outside. Some students asked, “are we being punished,” not understanding why the other children were eating candy and enjoying the inflatables while they were stuck inside.

At least one teacher says she doesn’t feel it was appropriate to have a Carnival on school grounds during school hours if all students were not able to attend. The teacher says that to add insult to injury for the small children unable to pay the $10 fee, the school Principal, Joan Monroe, sent a bag of little stuffed animals to the classroom to pass out to all the students who paid. If the student had not paid, the teacher was instructed not to give them a stuffed animal. The teacher who questioned the school’s actions said she refused to pass out the toys to the students until she could purchase gifts personally for the students unable to afford to ticket.

“I think everybody should have gotten a prize, regardless. They’re still part of our school community.”

A second teacher said she was disgusted by what happened to the poorer children at the school.

“If you are doing a carnival during school hours, it should be free. It doesn’t matter if it’s one kid or 200 sitting in the auditorium. They all should have been out there.”

According to the Daily Mail, though the Carnival was sponsored by the parents association, it was Monroe who insisted that children who did not pay for a ticket should be excluded from the event, as it was the only way to “be fair.”

“She was saying it’s not fair to the parents who paid. You can’t argue much, I guess. The school is under her.”

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Teachers say they were given lists of the students who had paid and who had not, reminding them to take the unpaid students to the auditorium instead of the Carnival. To ensure the rules were followed, Monroe announced that students without a ticket would report to the auditorium over the loudspeakers in the school the morning of the event.

Despite Monroe claiming the exclusion of the students was an attempt to “be fair” to those who paid, Frank Chow, the president of the parents association, says that the school made $2,000 to $3,000 profit off of the Carnival despite the 100 students who didn’t purchase tickets.

“I wish we just charged parents the cost, not to make extra.”

What do you think about an elementary school event such as a Carnival being held during school hours on school grounds that excludes students unable to pay for a ticket? Should the school reserve such events for outside of school hours?

[Image Credit: Flickr CC / Steven Lilley]