BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Bedford Central Schools Superintendent Jere Hochman declined to move forward with a workshop on race relations that drew opposition from some district residents.
In an interview, Hochman explained that he did not put it on the school board's agenda.
“I realized there were too many questions that needed to be answered,” he said.
The two-day workshop was to be held on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4, according to a letter from Hochman that was addressed to community agency leaders. It would have been facilitated by an organization called Educational Equity Consultants (EEC).
The nature of the event, particularly with the planned role of EEC, drew opposition from a pair of residents who spoke at the Bedford school board's Oct. 8 meeting.
Sal Di Carlo, a Bedford Hills resident, called EEC a “race agitating consulting group.”
Di Carlo, who is also a district parent, blasted use of term "white privilege," which is mentioned on the EEC website.
“I find the term ‘white privilege’ extremely offensive. I find Mr. Hochman’s association and acceptance with the term even more offensive.”
Di Carlo was also critical of EEC mentioning works from commentators such as Howard Zinn and Bill Bigelow.
“Who has given Mr. Hochman the green light to politicize his post?” Di Carlo asked.
Joe Malichio, a Pound Ridge resident, was also incensed.
“I feel that our superintendent sees way too many things through the prism of race," he said.
Malichio, a district parent, also criticized policy in the district towards people who have immigrated illegally.
“Nobody cares what race people are in this district," he said. "If Mount Kisco was filling with illegal Italian immigrants who look just like me but were speaking no English and paying barely anything or nothing into the system, I would be right here speaking about that.”
Malichio, addressing service provided to immigrants, advocating doing what the state mandates and not going beyond that. He added there are Latino residents who are in the district legally who also demand this.
Hochman, in the interview, responded to the criticism, mentioning a scenario of having a workshop with them and a discussion. Addressing the criticism, Hochman also made an argument that what was being assumed about him is not true.
During the meeting, the superintendent gave a lengthy related presentation, speaking about the history of the country's achievement gap and what the workshop would have involved. The board's meeting video, which includes Hochman's presentation and remarks from the critics, is available here.
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