Middletown Superintendent of Schools William George spoke out in support of Jada Tulloch, a High School North valedictorian who spoke out against racism in a video she posted on social media. Some parents were outraged after watching the video.
George stated in a letter on Thursday: "The racially insensitive words of a few do not represent the views of a community or our school district."
In the video, Tulloch called out community members who were more focused on whether there would be an in-person graduation instead of the virtual graduation mandated during the pandemic.
She stated: "Stop trying to invalidate the Black Lives Matter movement and the protest against police brutality by comparing the injustices faced by minorities to the 'oppression' you're facing from the Board of Ed — are you joking? Wake up, oh my God."
In a private Facebook group, "Middletown hsn senior page," a number of parents slammed Tulloch after watching the video.
Screenshots of the comments were posted on Twitter by Frank Meade, a recent graduate of the school.
"Middletown North parents invalidated a person of color’s experience with oppression and racism in the Middletown School District. Multiple parents want the valedictorian to have her graduation speech stripped away because she spoke her truth," Meade wrote.
Some of the comments included:
"She's going to Columbia University how bad could her life really be?" wrote Rachel Poss.
"I just watched the video. It should be sent to school administration and she should not speak at the graduation whether virtual or in person!! Absolutely disgusting!! Our town is not based on black or white. We are all equal," wrote Deana Brooks Spencer.
Tulloch replied to the comments, stating that she had not felt bullied in the school, "only taken aback by rude or ignorant behaviors and comments" she heard, directed to her or others. She stated that she had a strong local support system and that any “mistreatment” just goes over her head.
Superintendent George praised Tulloch and stated that he was looking forward to her speech at the June 18th Middletown virtual graduation.
"Schools are microcosms of society and are reflective of our collective challenges, including systemic racism. We received correspondence from hundreds of people who wrote to denounce the social media posts on a platform not affiliated or sanctioned by the school district," he said.
"These are challenging times, but there is great opportunity for change and growth to strengthen a culture of anti-racism. It is our job as a school community to stand up and speak out against injustice. We empower our students to use their voices to represent the change they want to see in the world," he added.
George was praised for standing by Tulloch, with Oscar Morales writing: "Congratulations to Jada Tulloch on her incredible accomplishment. You are a young lady with integrity and moral compass way past your years! Don't let ugly people distract you from letting your voice be heard, use that voice and knowledge you gain to change the world! GOOD LUCK AT COLUMBIA!"
Heather McGrath commented: "Yes! I am glad to see administration speak in support of this young woman’s right to share her experience and to recognize that we all grow and learn by listening to others. Jada - be loud and proud, always. Congratulations on your accomplishments!"