Sunday, 6 Dec 2020

Headteacher says sorry for targeting Bangladeshi parents in letter about Covid

A headteacher who accused Bangladeshi families of spreading coronavirus has apologised.

Parents at Richard Avenue Primary School in Sunderland have forced Karen Todd to apologise for a letter she wrote criticising those "driving taxis and holding wedding ceremonies at home".

In a no-nonsense address to parents Ms Todd claimed a small minority within the Bangladeshi community had “totally” let her down by not following Covid-19 rules, which was putting school pupils and staff at risk.

Specific actions which she slammed as ignoring government guidance included people driving or working in restaurants before testing negative for the virus.

She also slammed families for hosting weddings and mehndi nights, when Asian brides gather with friends and family to paint their bodies with Henna.

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Ms Todd's letter reads: "Mehndi nights have taken place in people’s homes: against the law.

"Weddings have taken place in family homes: against the law.

"Families have visited from the local area and further afield: against the law.

"Workers sharing cars, not wearing masks: against the law.

"Families awaiting test results and sending their children to school: against the law.

“I apologise, for those Bangladeshi families receiving this letter, who are like myself, trying to do the right thing.

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“But I felt it was important for us as a while community to be open and honest with each other.

“I ask myself, how many of those adults who are currently testing positive, or awaiting results, having acted irresponsibly; Have sent their children to school?

“Many people need to wake up, take responsibility and change their behaviour.”

The headteacher also said: "My staff and I are trying to do the right thing for your children, each other and our families and I feel totally let down by a small element of the Bangladeshi community."

The letter enraged people in the community, leading to complaints being made to the school, the director of education and the local MP, Julie Elliot.

One mum-of-four at the school, Johura Moyrom, was so shocked that she assumed the letter was fake when she first read it, according to Chronicle Live.

She said: "I thought 'this can't be real', 'has somebody faked this?"

"When I read it, I was appalled by it and so were many other people in the community. They were absolutely disgusted by it. They were shocked and felt belittled.

She said that although there were people breaking coronavirus rules from all backgrounds, Todd's letter only singled out one community.

Ms Todd has since apologised, saying: "I regret sending the letter, and I accept responsibility for the offence caused, as this was never my intention.

"I am passionate about the inclusive and diverse education of our children and I am truly sorry for my actions.”

Another letter was sent out by the chair of governors, Rebecca Evans on Wednesday.

It read: "Richard Avenue Primary School is a vibrant, inclusive and multicultural primary school and I would like to assure you the governing body are listening to concerns raised by parents.

"As chair of governors, I can confirm the governing body are taking the concerns seriously and following school procedures, we are dealing with the situation appropriately"

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