Students in Windsor walked into school the day after the election to see a blank wall, where a portrait of President Barack Obama used to be.
Families and students at the Oliver Ellsworth School are now wondering why the mural was painted over, and one parent encouraged others on social media to attend Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting to address the issue with school officials.
"I don't want Windsor to be known for something like that,” said parent Ayana Taylor.
When her 5-year-old son used to walk into his school, he would see a silhouette of Obama painted on a wall.
The day after Election Day, it had been painted over.
"What the mural meant to the school and the town has basically been erased and it's very disheartening,” Taylor said.
The mural was painted by a substitute art teacher in the spring of 2009, and all of the children who were students at the time, signed their names on the wall to commemorate their year in school.
"The children that signed the wall are now sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school,” Taylor said.
Parents are puzzled by the sudden change, and want answers from the district.
"I wanted to know why the mural was taken down, who took the mural down, and what they were going to do to replace it,” said parent Laschone Garrison.
Windsor Public Schools Superintendent Craig Cook said a work order was submitted at the start of the school year. He said there had been an ongoing discussion about removing the mural and making it an informational wall for parents.
"There's tons of bulletin boards, and there's tons of walls that could have been used for data purposes,” Taylor said. “I think a mistake was made and the timing was wrong, and I think that the people who made the mistake need to own it.”
The superintendent adds that they’re trying to make it right and replace what was lost.
Cook said the district checked to see if it is possible to strip the new paint off and restore the mural, but it isn’t possible.
He initially said he is now seeing if there’s a way to memorialize the mural at its original location.
"What we are looking at now is taking a picture of the mural that we have and recreating it as a large canvas or a photo we would hang in that place or put a plague there,” Cook said.
Several parents attended the meeting on Tuesday evening, where Cook said they will work to correct the mistake and will replace the mural.
"I'm glad they addressed it, I'm glad they admitted that it was a mistake and if we can all work together and if that's good that comes out of it then that's a positive," said parent Donna Douglas.
Jasmine Rush was one of the student's whose signature adorned the presidential mural. She says while it won't have the same impact as the original, she will be happy to add her name to the new one.
"I think it's a good effort and I appreciate that effort I just wish we didn't have to do this in the first place," Rush said.
Cook says they plan to contact the original artist to paint the new mural. He also said they plan to add a policy that would require the Board of Education to weigh in, as well as the public, before making decisions like this one in the future.
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