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Pittsford responds to recent racist incidents

Pittsford Sutherland High School
Pittsford Sutherland High School

Officials in the Pittsford School District continue to deal with reaction to a social media video that surfaced recently, reigniting concerns about racism in the district.

Monroe County Sheriff Deputies stationed officers at  Pittsford Sutherland High School on Monday after they were made aware of a disturbing video circulating from a student at the high school.

Deputies said they believe the video is months old, and determined a weapon displayed in the video is an air-soft gun and is not a threat.

District Superintendent Michael Pero sent out a letter to families Friday, and sent out an updated statement on Monday, which said the district is dealing with the students who made racist remarks on social media, video and in text messages. Pero called the incidents “intolerable” and said the district “will pursue student discipline with the heaviest of consequences at our disposal.”

Pero added that the Pittsford School District’s work in eradicating racism must be stronger than ever and he said that will include completing the process of hiring an equity and inclusivity coordinator and continuing work to ensure an inclusive environment.

The community group, PittsFORWARD is holding a Unity Rally on Sunday, Oct. 3 from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Village of Pittsford at Main Street and Four Corners.

PittsFORWARD was formed several years ago to promote sustained community conversations about race and diversity.

On its Facebook page this week, PittsFORWARD said that its previously planned Unity Rally takes on new meaning with the recent news in the school district. The group said that it stands with the students “who have undergone repeated racial trauma.”

State Sen. Samra Brouk, (D-55) released a statement Monday saying that as a graduate of the Pittsford School District, she is “saddened to report that these kinds of threats are not unfamiliar to my personal experience. This is the same kind of racism, the same kind of intolerance, that I was subjected to and hurt by as a Black child attending school in Pittsford. Now, twenty years later, it has become all too clear how little has changed.”

Brouk said that all young people deserve to feel safe, welcome and respected at school, she said that the recent  incidents represent a failure of leadership in the community to build an inclusive school culture.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.