Trustee, college address field trip controversy

Allegations of racism and discrimination continue to rise for South Bend Community School Corporation.

Thursday was the first trip of a series of field trips for African-American third graders in the district.

William Sniadecki, a vocal trustee for South Bend Schools, sent an email to the district's board condemning the African-American Student/Parent Services department, which he warned would encourage discrimination.

"Its kind of ridiculous separating," said Sniadecki. "What are we teaching our kids?"

Kennedy Primary Academy is just a few miles away from Sniadecki's home, and he's upset that a school trip didn't include all third grade students.

"Look at these kids on the playground," he said. "Black, white and Hispanic [kids] are all playing together. We don't need them separated."

Sniadecki voted against creating the department for African-American Student/Parent Services back in 2013.

He felt it would leave out white and Hispanic students.

But some see this trip as a way to support students who don't have access to many resources.

"When we're building communities, through the school systems, through our mission here at Ivy Tech, we're supporting all students but specifically trying to bring students up who haven't had the opportunities that some others have." said Lisa Shaffer, Vice Chancellor of Enrollment and Marketing for Ivy Tech Community College.

Ivy Tech was the first college on the list of schools students were set to attend.

And the college believes the partnership was less about race and more about need.

"It is unfortunate that there is controversy around this but the research shows that African-American students need more support," said Violet Hawkins, Dean of Business & Public Services for Ivy Tech Community College.

But Sniadecki believes all students could use this support.

"Your at risk students isn't determined by the color of your skin," said Sniadecki.

ABC 57 News contacted the superintendent as well as the district's Communication Department and could not get a statement on this matter.

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