After the death of George Floyd, demonstrators rallied outside police departments, on highways and through downtowns across New England calling for police reforms and racial justice.
Amid these protests, Alicia Thomas, a special education teacher in Springfield, Mass., posted on Facebook about the role of teachers in dismantling racism — and how school administrators could do more to support teachers of color.
“As a black teacher, I have not felt safe to advocate for my students in a way that I see my white counterparts celebrated in doing so,” Thomas told NEXT in an interview.
Thomas previously taught ethnic studies at Holyoke High School in Massachusetts. She contends her contract was not renewed after she refused to enforce a policy prohibiting students from wearing du-rags.
The school’s executive principal, Stephen Mahoney, declined to discuss Thomas' case, citing personnel matters. But in a statement to NEXT, Mahoney said: "When I came to HHS the school had a policy that prohibited hats, bandanas, and du-rags. At the end of my first year at Holyoke High School, after listening to students, faculty and staff, and community members, we reversed the policy and now allow students to wear du-rags, beanies and baseball caps worn with the brim facing back."