Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the New York State Education Department to investigate accusations that staff members at East Middle School in Binghamton strip searched four African American girls in mid-January. In a press release, his office called the allegations “deeply disturbing and raise serious concerns of racial and gender bias.”
The Binghamton City School District denies that there was a strip search. Instead, the district has released statements saying staff conducted medical assessments, which may include removing bulky clothing, like a sweatshirt. The school district also says a law firm is conducting a review, saying it “welcome(s) full and objective assessments.”
About 200 community members packed this month’s school board meeting and rallied outside of East Middle School on Tuesday.
In response to the fallout from this incident, school board member Korin L. Kirk, wrote a lengthy message posted on Facebook, as “an individual, a resident of this community, a Black woman,” rather than in her capacity representing the board.
She believes the four girls and wrote that there’s a massive divide in Binghamton the experiences of people of color and people who are white, between people who are wealthy and people who are low-income.
“Rebuilding relationships is a cornerstone of Restorative Justice, but we have to be honest with ourselves that we cannot rebuild relationships that never existed in the first place,” Kirk wrote. She said she didn’t know if there was malicious intent, but that everyone must acknowledge that there was harm done.
“Now we need to focus on harm reduction and prevention.”