Superintendent taking action in wake of Middletown confederate flag controversy

MIDDLETOWN --   Middletown High School teachers and students Tuesday with Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Conner, who wanted to have dialogue following what was a startling event for some on Friday.

While Conner would neither confirm nor deny, citing student privacy laws, the high school's students tell FOX61 that the fellow student, who brought and flaunted a confederate flag to school Friday, no longer attends the high school.

The male student allegedly shouted racial slurs. This leading into the long holiday weekend, which celebrates the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, the school's first day back in session since the flag incident, students staged a protest of the hateful behavior.

"It wasn’t really signs," said Nassir Hickman, a Middletown High School junior. "It was more of like just conversations. We had a microphone and kids would go up there and just talk."

One of the newest members of the Middletown Board of Education, who is a social justice teacher at a Hartford school, has kept close tabs on the fallout from Friday.

"This is a problem in Middletown and you don’t have to look far to see that it’s a problem everywhere," said Lisa Loomis-Davern, who won a seat on the BOE in November.

Since she didn't see any local outcry for change through social media over the weekend, she decided to pen a letter, which was published in the online “Middletown Eye” on Monday.

"I know the way I started the letter saying dear white residents of Middletown is, people can see that as divisive," said Loomis-Davern.

She says the primary aim of her letter was to begin to take an approach that has helped combat racism before.

"In the civil rights movement, in the 50's and 60's, you saw white people joining in," she said.

In the letter, she writes “we interact with people online and in person, who look and think like we do,” which, she says, needs to change.

"Dialogue begins when you seek first to understand," she says "So, it starts with listening."

She and many others in Middletown say the confederate flag controversy is an opportunity to affect change.

"I’m trying to use my power and privilege and voice to help people of color," she added. "A lot of times people listen to respond instead of listening to understand."

Conner says he came close to tears Tuesday as he listened to students open their hearts to him. He will soon present the BOE with his recommendations following this incident.