A principal in York County, Pa., is under fire after posing as comedian and TV personality Steve Harvey in blackface, during a team training event. The picture resurfaced from an incident that happened last August.
Amid a plethora of blackface incidents coming to light, the photo of Principal Lisa Boyer as Harvey was sent to the York Daily Record. Boyer dressed up in a suit like the Family Feud host, and painted her skin darker and covered her head to imitate Harvey’s look.
Also at issue is the Southern York County School District’s lax handling of the case according to a former contractor who took to Twitter to take the district to task saying the ordeal was “swept under the rug.”
“I understand the teachers that attended were also offended and also reported it to administration, and that’s how the disciplinary action started,” York chapter NAACP president Sandra Thompson said.
Sandra Lemmon, superintendent at Southern York County, released a statement about the Twitter posts by the contractor saying she needed to clarify some of the statements that suggested that the district had covered up the incident.
“The School District wishes to correct factual inaccuracies in those tweets, as well as to explain the prompt remedial action that was taken to address this unfortunate incident,” Lemmon said in a statement.
“The building principal in question held a team building exercise with her school staff at the beginning of this school year. No students were present in the school on this day since it was a staff in-service day. The principal had the staff play a game based upon the television show, “Family Feud,” and she dressed up as the show’s host, Steve Harvey. The principal wore a man’s suit, a stocking to cover her hair, a fake mustache and makeup on her face to darken her skin color. The School District’s central office administration was advised of the principal[‘s] appearance later that same day, and the incident was immediately investigated.”
She went on to say that the principal was disciplined and she apologized to the school’s staff that was present. Further, it was made clear that the incident violated the school district’s policies and was not “swept under the rug.”
Lemmon said the investigation those who were present were all Caucasian and they were reportedly shocked at the principal’s costume.
“They shared that they were surprised,” Lemmon said, “and they shared very openly that they did not believe that her intent was to offend in any way.”
But Thompson said it’s problematic that the teachers present were not offended by Boyer in blackface.
In an email to the newspaper, Boyer apologized about the offensive action.
“I’m sorry, but I really want to put this behind me and am saddened that you don’t understand this,” Boyer wrote. “I have shared my comments in my email.”
According to Boyer’s email:
“I can share with you that I held a team building exercise with the elementary school staff on an in-service day before the start of the year.
“I had staff members play a game based upon the television show, “Family Feud,” and I dressed up as the show’s host, Steve Harvey. My intention was never to offend anyone; however, I understand now how my actions could be viewed as insensitive and inappropriate. I deeply regret my decision and have learned from it.”