WINDSOR -- Parents and former students at Oliver Ellsworth School are furious after a 7-year-old mural featuring President Obama was suddenly painted over as part of planned maintenance.
The painting happened on Election Day, when the school was closed for the day in order to be used as a polling place.
"I was definitely immediately thinking about the election, political climate, but at the same point, Windsor is different," said Ayana Taylor, a parent of a student. "I'm also saying to myself, not my town, it's not what was meant to happen."
The mural featured President Obama's likeness, student signatures and icons from other historical events of that time.
School district officials say the mural space was going to be used to showcase other student work and the painting over had been planned well before the outcome the tense 2016 election was determined.
"Parents are upset and I understand that," said Dr. Craig Cooke, Superintendent of Windsor Public Schools. "I think it was very poor timing and there wasn't any communication to families about what we were going to do. "
Parents and former students gave the board of education an earful during the board's regular meeting Tuesday night.
"It was a mistake and it's not something that we'd do," said Cooke. "And we're sorry."
District officials say they're working to get the mural back in the form of a large photograph, or possibly, commission the original artist to create a similar work.
This is the letter that was sent home to parents by Superintendent Craig A Cooke:
Last week, a mural depicting events that occurred during a group of students' time at Oliver Ellsworth School was painted over. The mural was originally painted in the Spring of 2009. At the center of the mural was a silhouette of President Barack Obama, signifying his taking officer as the first ever black President in our nation's history. The timing for the replacement of this mural could not have been worse and we offer our sincere apologies for this mistake.
As a district we are looking at options to memorialize the mural in its original location. We intend to place a large canvas or photograph of the mural at Oliver Ellsworth. A plaque naming the artist and an explanation of the mural will also be displayed. While we considered having the mural repainted by the original artist, we would not be able to match its design, which included student signatures.
Furthermore, as a district we will now have procedures in place to ensure that artwork/murals intended to be more permanent in nature are not painted over without a formal process.