NJ K-8 school takes down Black Lives Matter art bulletin board
ESTELL MANOR — A South Jersey elementary school started the year with some disagreement over a teacher’s prominent Black Lives Matter theme for art class, according to parents of students.
Edward Ballard, whose daughter attends Estell Manor Elementary School, said he was taken aback by a bulletin board display that was part of the remote K-8 classroom during the first day of school on Thursday.
The board featured a Nelson Mandela quote, “It is in your hands to create a better world for ALL who live in it,” surrounded by the names of people who have died either in police custody or shot by police over the past several years, including Freddie Gray, Philando Castille, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark and Botham Jean.
Ballard said he thought the quote was nice, while the names were alarming to him as subject matter for grade school students. He said the Black Lives Matter logo of a raised fist also was part of the art teacher's Google Classroom header on the first day of classes.
At least one other parent voiced concern to New Jersey 101.5, without wishing to be identified, noting both the young age of the students and also the desire to be sensitive to law enforcement families within the community.
After requests for comment on Thursday and Monday, Estell Manor Superintendent/Principal Dianna Abraham released the following statement Tuesday:
"The Estell Manor School District has been working tirelessly to ensure the safety, health and educational needs of our students are met in this unprecedented time. I have been recently made aware that questions have been raised regarding certain curriculum within the District. I am not currently able to provide any specific details, however I can advise that the matter is under review and will be addressed appropriately."
Ballard said as of Tuesday, the bulletin board content and Black Lives Matter logo were no longer posted to the remote classroom accessed by his daughter.
The Estell Manor School is a small school in rural Atlantic County with one class per grade, according to its school choice program description. There are 197 students enrolled in the district.
Estell Manor is slated to resume in person instruction on Monday.