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Hamden residents organize rally against online student harassment

Concerned parents protest outside Hamden High School.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
/
Connecticut Public
Concerned parents protest outside Hamden High School on Friday, June 7.

Concerned parents and community members rallied Friday at Hamden High School protesting what they describe as online harassment of students. Parents said a series of blog posts are racist, misogynistic and homophobic. The authorship of the web posts, which go back to 2022, is unclear and parents are concerned it may be an individual or individuals at the school.

Tara Pawloski, a Hamden resident and mother, is hoping the school can do something.

“As parents, the lack of action taken by the administration is creating a very unsafe environment for our children, and we need them to do something right away,” Pawloski said. “But metal detectors do not prevent racism and harassment and bullying from getting into our schools.”

Pawloski said other parents have also addressed the concern to the Hamden Board of Education and spoken at board meetings.

“They said it was a personnel issue that they couldn’t discuss publicly,” Pawloski said.

Kristin Eno, another parent, echoed these sentiments.

“We would like investigative action taken,” Eno said. “The bullying language this person is using is violent. It’s very upsetting.”

After several attempts, the Hamden Public Schools superintendent’s office did not provide a request for comment. The principal of Hamden High School declined to comment on the day of the rally.

Anthony Esquilin Ortiz, an 18-year-old student, says details shared in the blog posts are concerning.

“I just don't think it's very respectful, and these are kids they may have issues. I think this is not the right way to go about voicing your concerns.”

Theodore Parker, another student, also felt threatened by the specifics in some of the posts and worries they suggest it was written by someone at the school.

Parker said he hadn’t noticed a clear response or action by school administration.

“The most I've ever seen are maybe my classes where teachers trying to guess who it is or students, but that's it,” Parker said.

Jacqueline Forcucci, a co-chair of Hamden Pride Festival, a LGBTQ+ organization, also expressed alarm when one of the posts identified the sexual orientation of a student.

“We are appalled at the writer’s behavior,” Forcucci said. “We feel that it is inappropriate, extra concerning, and even harmful, because the person they chose to speak about is a minor and a student of Hamden Public Schools.”

Pawloski said the community hopes this demonstration will pressure the administration to take more transparent and decisive actions.

Hamden Public Schools have both a staff policy and student policy regarding social media including bullying and harassment.

Parents are considering further actions, including contacting the Department of Education.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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