Blackface incident at Sun Prairie school prompts letter to families

Sun Prairie Area School District officials sent a letter to families on Nov. 25, 2019 after a student painted his face black and posted the photo on social media.
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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV)-- Friends intervened when another student at a Sun Prairie basketball game Saturday painted his face black, according to school officials.

According to a letter sent by the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) on Monday, a Sun Prairie student posted a picture on social media while wearing blackface at a girls’ basketball game. Officials said the student did not have paint on when they entered the game.

School officials said at some point during the game, the student put black face paint on his entire face. They said “peers intervened, and he removed the face paint.”

SPASD policy prohibits anything that is “disruptive, distracting, provocative, provoking, and/or intimidating that has a detrimental effect on the safe and educational atmosphere in the school environment.”

Officials said the student would not have been allowed to enter the event if he arrived wearing blackface, and said if district personnel was notified or observed his actions, they would have acted immediately.

Below is the letter sent to staff and families:


”Dear Sun Prairie Staff and Families,


”At Saturday’s girls’ basketball game, a Sun Prairie student posted a picture on social media while wearing blackface. The student did not have face paint on when entering the game as a spectator. At some point during the game, the student applied black face paint to his entire face. Peers intervened, and he removed the facepaint (sic). The student would not have been allowed to enter the event while wearing blackface. Had district personnel been notified or observed this, they would have acted immediately.


”School policy prohibits anything deemed to be disruptive, distracting, provocative, provoking, and/or intimidating that has a detrimental effect on the safe and educational atmosphere in the school environment. This includes identity-obstructive masks, full face paint, or any materials to be worn over the face during the school day or at school events.


”This behavior is not aligned to our district mission and vision of supporting every child, every day. There is no excuse for it. School administration is working on a full investigation, and the situation is being addressed.


”In our work to inspire and prepare every child, we know that race matters. Regardless of the intent of the behavior, images of blackface evoke reminders of a racist and painful history for African Americans. The students who immediately recognized the impact of this act directly modeled the courage to address situations that invite racism, depict racism, or contain racist connotations. This incident highlights the importance of our ongoing work to be able to have courageous conversations about race within our schools and our community at large.


”Our staff have been briefed and we’ve shared resources to support their work with our students. All staff are available to support students as needed throughout the day. Please see the weblink on the history of blackface to support your conversations at home.”