File photo of Pender Makin, Brunswick assistant superintendent of schools. Makin apologized to parents for teachers' decision to show a film that included racial epithets to elementary school children. Credit: Christopher Cousins

Administrators at a Brunswick elementary school apologized to parents earlier this month for showing students a film about an attempt to reduce racism, but that also includes the use of racial epithets.

According to The Forecaster, Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School Principal Heather Blanchard and Assistant Principal Joshua Levy wrote to parents on Feb. 5 to explain that they showed the 1991 Disney Channel film “Perfect Harmony” to facilitate a discussion of civil rights and raise awareness.

“The unintended outcomes of the film were that some children were upset, afraid, and others were confused by the message of the movie due to specific scenes,” the letter said, in part, adding that administrators would meet to discuss additional steps to support students.

Two music teachers also apologized to Blanchard, according to The Forecaster.

“This movie was rife with bullying, racial slurs, racial innuendos, smoking in school, religious styling and just outright violence,” parent Amanda Similien told the school board at its meeting Wednesday night. “It is my understanding that there was minimal lead-in or discussions afterward about the images seen.”

Assistant Superintendent Pender Makin told The Forecaster that the school department hopes to increase diversity in the schools “through an educational and restorative approach.”

“I would be grateful for anybody in this community who is willing to take this unfortunate mistake and help us to leverage it for positive change,” she told The Forecaster.

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