Meriden, Wallingford high schools prepare to offer Black and Latino studies courses

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Along with other school systems around the state, Meriden and Wallingford high schools will begin offering a full-year state-mandated elective called “African American/Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies” next school year. 

“This course will provide students with both a historical and current understanding of events and perspectives that are a part of how different groups of Americans have assimilated into American society, and this information will build students' understanding of the diversity that exists in the United States,” said Carrie Laudadio, a curriculum coordinator for Wallingford Public Schools. 

Laudadio reported on the status of implementing the course during a Board of Education meeting on June 6. 

“Because this is a state-mandated course with a provided, required curriculum, teachers will need to implement the curriculum as it is written,” Laudadio said. “However, as with any curriculum, teachers will each have their own unique instructional style….” 

This course will be offered to juniors and seniors at Sheehan and Lyman Hall high schools. If not enough students enroll in the course, then it would not have to be offered.

The first semester will focus on African American and Black studies, while the second semester looks at Puerto Rican and Latino studies.

“The state is providing a professional learning series, free of charge to the teachers who are teaching this course to help prepare them,” said Jennifer Passaretti, chair of the Wallingford Board of Education instructional committee. “And we also have our consultant who has been working with these teachers to break down this curriculum and help the teachers to feel comfortable teaching a course that they haven’t taught before.” 

The State Education Resource Center has been offering showcases to allow educators to learn more about the course and ways to implement it in schools. The course, which was a result of Public Act 19-12, “An Act Concerning the Inclusion of Black and Latino Studies in the Public School Curriculum,” was offered on an initial “pilot” basis in about 70 districts.

Course rollout in Meriden

“I was able to go into three different breakouts and heard from three different high schools on how they implemented the course and the success they had with it this year because they were pilot districts,” said Lysette Torres, Meriden director of equity and instruction. 

Meriden educators teaching the course are going to participate in professional development through the State Education Resource Center.

Platt and Maloney high schools are offering the course next school year.  

Torres said she’s excited to offer students another opportunity to learn about history and different cultures. 

“This is going to be a great opportunity for all of our students,” Torres said. 

Reporter Jessica Simms can be reached at


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