Turn To Tara exclusive: Elmsford schools at center of state review amid racism complaints

A parent in Elmsford says racism is rampant in one of Westchester's most ethnically diverse school districts.

News 12 Staff

Oct 22, 2019, 9:26 PM

Updated 1,697 days ago

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A parent in Elmsford says racism is rampant in one of Westchester's most ethnically diverse school districts.
News 12 has learned the Elmsford Union Free School District is now at the center of a review by the state Education Department after complaints by parents.
The parent who sparked that probe recently sat down with Tara Rosenblum. The parent's face, voice and name have been disguised due to fear of retaliation to her family and herself.
"Susan" is the parent of a student who attends a high school in Elmsford, where 1 in 3 students are Spanish-speaking and white students are the minority.
She claims there is a documented pattern of at least three teachers making racially insensitive comments to non-white students. The most recent example allegedly involved one teacher referring to the Muslim holiday of Ramadan as "roma-bomb" in front of two students during lunch.
"The 'rama-bomb' comment is not only completely disgusting and racist, but unfortunately, it was said by a teacher that was retaliating against a student after their parents complained about his previous inappropriate behavior," she says.
Susan sent a letter weeks ago to the school board president expressing concerns over the social media habits of Superintendent Dr. Marc Baiocco. A picture of Baiocco wearing a MAGA hat was posted on social media. Additionally, Dr. Baiocco allegedly "liked" a controversial tweet by a comedian that defended comments by President Donald Trump at a summer rally where he said, "Go back to where you came from."
The comedian's tweet read, "It wasn't racist. No matter what color you are you can go back home or move if you don't like America."
Once the tweet was liked on the superintendent's account, the tweet became viral. Baiocco says it wasn't him that hit the "like" button.
Susan admits Dr. Baiocco is entitled to his own personal beliefs, but she says she believes he is sending the wrong message to students.
"The superintendent, being a white male, is actually in the minority and he needs to be able to understand the demographic that he is serving," she says.

News 12 took the complaints to Dr. Baiocco, who emailed a statement that claimed a picture of him wearing a MAGA hat was posted on a private Facebook page that did not belong to him or the school district, and therefore should not be connected to his employment.
"I have always worked to ensure that every student's social, emotional and educational needs are met," he said regarding his 11-year tenure.
He admitted the controversial tweet was liked on his personal Twitter account, but said it was a mistake that he was unaware of. He called the content of the tweet "offensive."
As for the alleged comments regarding Ramadan, Dr. Baiocco said the district could not comment on personnel matters.
News 12 also heard from School Board President James Henson, who told News 12 he is aware of the posts and has already addressed them with Dr. Baiocco.
He said the superintendent also discussed the matter at a Board of Education meeting and directly with concerned parents.
 


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