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Nyack Schools Report

Redhawks TV, Racist Lunch Menu, Dress Code Update (And More Notes from Feb. 7 Meeting)

Last week Principal David Johnson and Assistant Principal Tom DiLeo were guest broadcasters on Redhawks TV – Nyack Middle School. Going forward, students will have the opportunity to share news and announcements live to the entire school community.

Although other items were discussed (like the new Redhawks TV initiative), the racist lunch menu served at Nyack Middle School on the first day of Black history month took center stage during the February 7 Nyack School Board meeting after students spoke out and local and national news media amplified the incident. (Read our detailed coverage of the fiasco here.)

At the meeting, James Montesano, the acting superintendent who came out of retirement last year while the district was between leaders, explained that it was an unintentional decision made by staff who did not consider the impact of serving chicken, waffles and watermelon — food that has been wielded historically as a stereotype that denigrated Black Americans. 

The Board and community members expressed shame and disappointment that this was allowed to happen and had various suggestions for addressing the issue. Ideas ranged from replacing the food service vendor, Aramark, entirely to requiring the vendors employees and executives to attend racial justice trainings to Aramark possibly funding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work in the district.

Both learning and accountability were highlighted as key to any possible next steps.

Aramark executives have committed to attending the Getting to the Root training — offered to all Nyack school district employees — that is the standard for understanding systems of racial oppression.

New dress code to be voted on Valentine’s Day

Also reviewed was the first draft of the revised dress code policy based on the proposal by a working group of parents, staff, students and administration. Small changes were made to language in the policy, and it is expected to be voted on in the next Board meeting on February 14. (Read more about the adjusted dress code language in our last Nyack Schools Report.)

Other highlights and upcoming events

  • Black history month will be celebrated in all the schools in different ways, including assemblies and performances.
  • There will be a Bounce fundraiser for the senior class.
  • Redhawks TV will be linked to on the high school website (and here!).
  • Best wishes to Neil Anderson who retired this week after a long tenure at the high school.

What’s next? How can I learn more?

The Nyack school board generally meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the administration building (13A Dickinson Avenue, Nyack, NY), although times and locations are subject to change (find upcoming dates here). The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 14. Click here to find out when and where you can attend upcoming meetings. To listen to a podcast of recent meetings, click here. If you want to contact the board, use this address, — it sends an email to everyone on the board.

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