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An elite Brooklyn prep school said it took “immediate action” after learning of a video circulating on campus that shows two white students making monkey sounds while wearing blackface.
In a statement, Poly Prep Country Day School said it could not discuss the unidentified students’ disciplinary status, but added that the “highly offensive video” was an “egregious” violation of the school’s code of conduct.
The existence of the video — which the school said was taken “years ago” — was first reported by the New York Daily News.
Leaders of the school’s black student group said in an open letter to the administration that the video was not an isolated incident.
“In my time at Poly, not one year has gone by without an event rooted in racial intolerance and prejudice,” the letter said, according to the student newspaper, which published it. “While we acknowledge that the current administration has made efforts to address the video, they have not done enough; their repeated lack of action has contributed to an unsafe learning environment.”
The student group said the video appeared on campus on Jan. 11.
In its statement, the school described a protest led by the black students group as “extraordinarily powerful” and “empowering” and said its head of school met with student group leaders after a Friday assembly celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.
The school, which has counted among its alumni professional athletes and prominent business executives, described itself in the statement as one of the most diverse in New York City.
“In fact our students of color at Poly Prep have increased by more than 25% in the last two years,” the school said. Twenty-five percent “of faculty and administrative staff identify as People of Color.”