Cape school board misses opportunity to lead

May 22, 2017

A Cape senior recently appeared before the Cape Henlopen school board wearing a T-shirt that she had been sent home from school for wearing.

The T-shirt read, "Cape condones racism, homophobia, sexism and bullying."

Those are serious charges, and student Ariana Carpenito stood before the board and asked if anyone would like her to explain.

No one did.

Cape board President Andy Lewis and Superintendent Robert Fulton thanked Ariana but otherwise offered no response.

Cape Henlopen School District has held numerous anti-bullying forums and assemblies for students at all levels; the district insists that racism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

Yet here was a student appearing before the board to say the district not only tolerates racist and sexist behavior, it condones it.

If Cape Henlopen school board wants students to stand up to bullies, it should applaud a student like Ariana who stood up for herself and others by wearing her shirt and by bringing her concerns directly to the board.

School officials are reluctant to discuss matters of school discipline, so it remains unclear why Ariana was sent home for wearing the shirt. Board members are also limited in their ability to comment on topics not listed on the board agenda.

At the same time, board members and district staff are certainly within their rights to respond when a student feels compelled to stand before the board to tell her story.

Ariana made her shirt in the aftermath of bullying that involved racist language that students proudly posted on social media.

Isn't standing up to bullying exactly what the district expects of students? Why send a student home for doing what the district says students should do?

Cape Henlopen school board had an opportunity to publicly condemn racism and discrimination, and to applaud a student who did exactly that.

Instead, the board went for duck and cover, greeting her presence with silence – the very same silence that allows racism, sexism and bullying to fester in any community.



  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Laura Ritter, news editor, and Dennis Forney, publisher, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.