Weekend racist incident prompts administrative message


Maria Shaughnessy

A student reads the email from Laboratory Schools Director Charlie Abelmann.

Amanda Cassel, Managing Editor

An incident of a U-High student using racist language occurred off-campus over the weekend, according to an email from Laboratory Schools Director Charlie Abelmann released March 9 which alerted students, parents and faculty. Dr. Abelmann’s message said high school administrators were alerted to the racist language through an email from another student.

Student Council, Social Justice Week Club and Unity Council will host an open meeting during lunch on March 11 in the Markovitz Family Drama Studio for students to discuss moving forward and climate at Lab.

This story will be updated as details are released.

The full email from Dr. Abelmann is below.

Dear Parents, Guardians, and High School Students,

I am very distressed to report that today we learned of another instance of a High School student using racist language. Information about this incident, which happened off-campus over the weekend, was shared by a different student, via email, with High School administrators and has circulated among some students in the High School. 

Let me be clear: racist actions and language have no place in our school community. The incident fundamentally contradicts Lab’s commitment to fostering a welcoming campus for individuals of diverse backgrounds. This student has been sent home while we conduct the necessary investigation.

If we are to fulfill our mission of honoring diversity, everyone at Lab must be able to join our community with a full and deep sense of belonging. They must be and feel safe and able to participate fully in the life of our community. Anything less is unacceptable.

I want to specifically recognize that this situation is especially painful as it comes so shortly after our community has been trying to respond to and grow from the incident in December.

We continue the work we have begun with our board, the Black Family Forum, the PA Diversity Committee, and many faculty, staff, parents, and students to ensure that we develop a truly inclusive school culture. We have taken action on items we committed to in the letter to our community dated January 21 (posted on Lab’s DEI webpage).

We know that this situation, combined with everything else in the news, may make this is a particularly stressful time. Should you or your student need any support, please do not hesitate to contact your counselor, or an administrator including Principal Paul Beekmeyer, DEI Director Priyanka Rupani, or Dean of Students Ana Campos.