Sunderland school leaders accept letter accusing Bangladeshi families of covid breaches was 'hurtful and wrong' as head teacher returns to school
Richard Avenue Primary’s head teacher Karen Todd caused upset in the community after issuing a letter late last year in which she said she felt a “small element” of Bangladeshi families had made her feel let down because she believed they were mixing together and putting her staff, pupils and their relations at risk of the virus.
In the letter she claimed the community were holding gatherings included social occasions, weddings and mehndi nights, which is when Asian brides meet friends before their ceremony.
She later apologised and was then absent from school and this week a letter sent informing families she would be returning to school after some time working from home.
Parents contacted the Echo expressing concern, and said they believed the issued had been “glazed over”, while Sunderland International Bangladesh International Centre has said it is disappointed over a lack of consultation and says its emails to the school have not been responded to.
In a new letter sent to families on May 7, the school’s chairman of governors Craig Hilton said that ‘Mrs Todd is truly sorry’ for referring to the Bangladeshi community in her letter.
The latest letter says: “I, the other school governors, and Mrs Todd agree wholeheartedly that the letter sent to parents last year was hurtful and wrong.
"We understand that it caused a great deal of upset and anger, particularly amongst the Bangladeshi community in our own school and our city.
“As chair of governors, I want to assure our school and wider community that we have taken the time to listen to and learn from those who expressed their concerns with us at the time of the letter being shared.
"We have reflected on what happened and have been working hard to ensure that the same mistakes are not made again.
"We want to put things right and move forward.
“As a school, we pride ourselves on diversity of our multicultural community and it is so important to us that we protect this.
"In the past, it this is something we have been recognised and celebrated for and we don’t want this to change.”
He added it will be reviewing its governance and ensuring its board reflects its community.