Southington leaders plan to hold community conversations race, diversity

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SOUTHINGTON — Town leaders plan to hold community conversations for residents, students and parents following the posting of a video on social media of a Southington High School student threatening black classmates.

During the Town Council meeting on Monday night, council chairman Chris Palmieri read a statement from him and Board of Education chairman Brian Goralski condemning the video and saying it doesn’t represent the town. Other councilors stood as he read the statement.

Councilor Victoria Triano, a Republican and council minority leader, said the council “stood together for a purpose and a reason.”

She said the community conversations will give people who wouldn’t come to a town meeting “a voice.”

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to have these community conversations,” she said.

Palmieri, a Democrat, said School Superintendent Tim Connellan is forming a community coalition that would meet regularly on issues of race and diversity. He also expressed confidence Southington has open and inclusive hiring practices and offers services for people of all backgrounds.

“To me it’s clear we’re a community that’s inclusive of all of our residents,” he said. “I know we certainly are on the right track.”

Triano and fellow Republican councilor Michael Riccio both suggested that Dorie Conlon Perugini help facilitate the community conversations. Perugini, a member of the Southington Women for Progress group, offered five proposals to the board of education last week to increase diversity in the school district.

Her group opposed the Christopher Columbus bust in front of the John Weichsel Municipal Center.

Perugini suggested the school board create diverse and less “Eurocentric” curriculum, hold equity and intercultural competence training for teachers, and increase racial diversity among school staff and administration.

Riccio said that residents may believe Southington is a melting pot, but that the town is in reality “basically a community of privilege.” He was glad Palmieri’s statement was read publicly and that the council stood in support.

The 17-year-old in the video was charged by police in December with breach of peace. His case has been sealed due to his age.


Twitter: @reporterjbuchanan


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