A Philadelphia school’s program is under community scrutiny after photos of its KKK skit surfaced online Thursday night. The district’s superintendent issued a public apology for the incident.
Upper Darby High School is under scrutiny after a photo of the school’s students’ KKK skit — from the 2014-15 academic year — appeared on Twitter. Three female students were dressed in Ku Klux Klan-like apparel, and they wore what resembled coned hoods over their faces.
Associated Press states that Upper Darby School District Superintendent Richard Dunlap sent an apology message concerning the KKK skit to students’ parents as well as the rest of the community. In the apology, Dunlap stated that the KKK gesture was in “poor judgment,” “inappropriate,” and “offensive.”
Superintendent of Philly-area school district apologizes for students' Ku Klux Klan skit https://t.co/twYYkdvVhP— The Associated Press (@AP) March 5, 2016
Supposedly, according to Upper Darby School District, the skit was “intended to identify and highlight the atrocities of the Ku Klux Klan.” However, that’s not how the community took the KKK depiction.
And due to this KKK skit’s offense, the superintendent’s message stated as follows.
“The photo has offended many in the community, and the Upper Darby School District is deeply sorry for this. Though there was no intention to harm or offend anyone, we recognize that the project was in poor judgment and an inappropriate activity.”
In an effort to avoid such offensive gestures like this KKK skit, Dunlap mentioned that the school board, administration, and staff have all been undergoing “diversity training,” reports Philadelphia Inquirer. Once the school’s employees have a grasp on certain topics, they plan to teach the same concepts to the school’s students.
Superintendent Dunlap also notes that they plan to use the KKK skit and its rendered situation as a lesson of what not to do. Regarding “cultural, historical, and racial understanding,” this diversity training might prove to be impactful for the community as a whole.
Please visit our website to see a statement from the superintendent regarding a photo circulating on Twitter. https://t.co/GutjBLIcQ5— Upper Darby SD (@UpperDarbySD) March 4, 2016
According to Washington Post, Upper Darby and Delware County, Pennsylvania has an extended history with KKK activity. State history notes that it used to have the second largest KKK lodge in Pennsylanvia in the late 1920s. And today, as mentions the school website, “Upper Darby is one of the largest school districts in Pennsylvania, with approximately 12,000 students and over 960 professional staff and 840 support personnel.”
Of those 12,000 students, the school district reports that 42 percent are African-American, 41 percent Caucasian, and the other 17 percent comprised of Asian, Hispanic, and other minorities.
Nonetheless, this long-standing school district has been around for nearly two centuries. According to Upper Darby SD, it was founded in 1834, almost 100 years before the KKK lodge was developed in the large community. Slavery wasn’t even abolished when this community became “Upper Darby.”
The site also states, “Upper Darby School District works closely with the Upper Darby Township, the Upper Darby Township and Sellers Memorial Free Public Libraries, the Upper Darby Police Department, the Upper Darby Fire Department, civic and faith-based entities to enhance the quality of life for all students, families and residents.”
However, that “quality of life” isn’t visible at the moment. Student advocacy group Upper Darby Parent Coalition hasn’t made a statement concerning the issue, nor have there been any further updates on the KKK skit situation or the students involved.
Upper Darby Parents‘ mission statement mentions promoting “transparency and accountability at all levels of the school board and school district administration.” The mission statement also notes the same transparency for students. Yet, things appear to be kept in silence at the moment. But, with such a diversified student demographic, how can such a topic stay quiet?
News in Upper Darby has been so repressive that even Upper Darby Police Department wonders if there’s any good news.
Anyone have any good news they'd like to share?— Upper Darby Police (@UDPolice) March 6, 2016
Nevertheless, what are your thoughts about the skit? Feel free to share them in the comments section.