Letter To The Editor: Civil Rights Groups Call For Transparency Investigating Racist Incident

Photo: Recent protest in Cushing Square (Credit: COS New England Facebook page)

Dear Belmont Police Department, Belmont Public Schools, and the larger Belmont community:

We are writing to express our disgust with the hate filled and racist graffiti found on the Wellington School Building this past Monday. This is unacceptable. We stand, in solidarity, with our Belmont and Boston students and families of color.

We must not and will not tolerate racism in any form or manner. The severity of the incident should be acknowledged and there should be follow through with students and families, alike.

We thank Belmont Superintendent John Phelan for bringing this to our attention as quickly as he did and we thank Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac for keeping the community informed of the ongoing investigation.  

We ask that the investigation of this hateful incident be swift, thorough, and transparent. We ask that any conversations with students, particularly of color, regarding this incident be thoughtful and transparent. We are here to be a support for our Belmont and Boston students, families, and educators. This is a community issue which is why we are asking for transparency.

For our students and community to heal, you all must be incredibly thoughtful in the manner in which the investigation is handled and how the information is disseminated. We would like to be included, along with community members, in the communications to students and families. We would like to receive updates on the investigation. 

The common theme is transparency.

ALL of our children should feel safe and welcomed in their environment. This incident proves that there are individuals in the Belmont community who continue to try and foster a climate of fear and intimidation. We, as a community, need to be vigilant in our fight against racism. Belmont schools are part of a greater community and we should all be informed when incidents like this happen. If it affects one, it affects all.

We look forward to receiving updates and working closely with you all.

In solidarity,

Community Organized for Solidarity (COS)

Black and Brown Families in Belmont (BBF)

Belmont Pan-Asian Coalition (BPAC) 

Belmont Antiracism Discussion Group (BADG) 

Witness IDs Teen/Preteen As Writer of Racist Graffiti At Wellington

Photo: The Wellington Elementary School

A resident told Belmont Police he witnessed a young man between 11 and 13 years old tagging a wall of the Wellington Elementary School where racist graffiti was discovered a few days later.

According to a statement by Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac released on Friday, April 2, an adult told police that on Saturday, March 28 at approximately 7 p.m., they observed the young man writing on the wall of the school. The witness asked the youth if he was responsible for graffiti on the wall near the flag pole.

Two days later, on March 30 at 4 p.m., Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan notified the Belmont Police that students discovered the graffiti that contained the words, “Math is F…ing (illegible) my ‘N-word’.”

At this time, the Belmont Police believe this youth was the one responsible forpage1image22307072

“The Belmont Public Schools and the Belmont Police emphasize that whether these words were written with malicious intent or out of ignorance, we are taking this incident very seriously and it is an act that must be strongly condemned. There is no place for hate or racism in Belmont,” said MacIsaac.

At this time, the Belmont Police Department is continuing its investigation.

The Belmont School Department has notified all families of this incident and is working with its Wellington team to discuss this incident with students in an age-appropriate manner.

McIsaac added that residents who have concerns or feel targeted by hate or racism may contact the Belmont Police or the Belmont Human Rights Commission at 617-993-2795 or email at Belmont.hrc@gmail.com.

Proposed Traffic Changes In Wellington Area Under Discussion at Public Meeting

Photo: Map of changes being proposed in the Wellington neighborhood.

With the building of the Belmont Middle and High School well underway, the impact of the new building on a number of neighborhood streets will be significant. One area that have identified were traffic and transportation challenges will occur are those streets adjacent to the Wellington Elementary School including School, Orchard, Goden.

The High School Traffic Working Group is hosting a public meeting on Thursday night, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall to discuss a proposed trial period of recommended changes to traffic patterns. The recommendations by the group are:

  • Create a one-way section of Goden Street between School and Orchard, allowing the intersection of Goden and School to be squared up instead of offset.
  • Create a four-way stop at Orchard and School streets.
  • Create a four-way stop at Orchard and Goden streets.
  • The pair of four-way stops are dependent on acceptance of the one-way on Goden.

The group’s consultant, BSC Group Consulting, will be at the meeting to explain the recommendations and answer questions.

World-Wide Walk: Belmont Students Hike to School On Walk to School Day

Photo: Mr. “S” leading the way to school on International Walk to School Day.

On a cool, crisp autumn morning, Richard Samaria – best known to generations of Belmont Elementary students as Mr. “S” – said there is nothing better for students and teachers than to start their mornings by walking to school.

“It’s a great workout, great exercise,” said the retired physical education teacher, who is still remembered for his Mr. “S” parties and a certain “Chicken Fat” song.

“It gets a lot out of them when they wake up and start to loosen up, so you’re ready to learn,” Samaria said as he greeted and helped march a group of Wellington Elementry student smartly down Oakley Road and Goden Street as part of International Walk to School Day held this year on Wednesday, Oct. 5. 

Beginning in 1997, Walk to School Day is a global event that involves 4,800 schools in more than 40 countries who are all walking and biking to school on the same day with the goal of beginning a worldwide movement for year-round safe routes to schools for walkers and bike riders.

Mr. “S” joined Aimee Doherty, the current physical education teacher and Gerry Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sporting Goods, as “guest” walkers who met with more than a dozen students, a handful of parents and a few dogs as they proceeded downhill from the corner of Oakley and Payson road to the Wellington. 

The Oakley group soon met up with Assistant Fire Chief Angus Davison and Colleen McBride, a Wellington second grade teacher – who once walked a total of eight miles to and from a village school while living in Keyna – all making their way to the school’s outdoor play area where the students (mostly energized) were given stickers, shoelaces, and pens promoting walking to school not just one day a year but making it a daily activity.  

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Join the World: Stride to Learning Wednesday on Int’l Walk to School Day

Photo: From last year’s walk to school day.

On Wednesday morning, Oct. 5, Belmont students will put on your walking shoes and join youngsters from 4,407 schools around the world who are walking and biking to school as part of the 20th International Walk to School Day. 

Two of those schools with events include the Wellington and Butler elementary schools. 

For Butler walkers, there will be five meeting points a short walk from school, where families can meet up and walk together. Students are encouraged to wear the Butler blue T-shirt or other bright blue for this special day.

The Wellington events include nearly a dozen starting locations, many with “guest” walkers including town, school and public safety personnel and even Moozy the Cow – the mascot of Moozy’s Ice Cream. 

Beginning in 1997, International Walk to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day with the goal of beginning an worldwide movement for year-round safe routes to schools for walkers and bike riders.

Power Off: Wellington Solar Panel Project Goes Dark

The sun set on plans to place solar panels on the roof of the Wellington Elementary School as the Belmont School Committee voted last night, Tuesday, April 8, to support Belmont School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston’s recommendation to rescind the contract associated with Boston-based contractor Broadway Electric, the solar installer which decided to close its business earlier this year.

“So it’s time to fish or cut bait and I’m suggesting we cut bait,” said Kingston.

Despite attempts to find another solar installer that would take over the current contract – which is considered a very small project by industry standards – the earliest that it would come before town officials for another round of approvals  would be in three months after studying the job.

“We need to stop protracting this,” said Kingston.

Kingston, who said the committee and the town remain strong supporters of using solar power, said it would be best for the new superintendent, John Phelan, who will begin his tenure on July 1, to take charge in leading the committee in finding a new vendor.

Kingston suggested that it would be advantageous for the town and schools to revisit the Wellington solar plan when a new High School is constructed, pairing it up with a larger project that could also include other municipal building such as the town’s fire stations.

“The bigger the project, the more attractive the job will become,” said Kingston.

Yet it is not known when that project will come on line; the school committee today submits its statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for the renovation of the current High School, a process that can take several years.

Nor is there any certainty that solar-power tax credits, which allows contractors to install panels for no cost to the town or school committee, will remain at the current level or be around when the High School project begins.