Midlothian- Parents of Midlothian students received an email this morning from the President of the MISD School Board referencing an article with a photo of Board Member, Tami Tobey, published by the Dallas Observer. The photo shows Tobey at a Halloween party in 2012, wearing blackface as part of her costume. Tobey and another woman were dressed as tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.
Letter From MISD Board President In Response to Photos of Tami Tobey
Dear MISD Parents –
I hope this email finds you and your family safe and well.
As the Midlothian ISD School Board President, I would like to take an opportunity to share with you about a situation that was recently brought to our attention. On Thursday, May 28, the district was informed that the Dallas Observer received photos of one of our Board of Trustee members, Tami Tobey, at a costume party in 2012. It is imperative to have open and honest communication regarding this sensitive situation.
I want to address this issue by getting straight to the point. Any offensive, demeaning and inappropriate behaviors by any MISD Board of Trustees member, staff member, teacher, or student is unacceptable. This is not representative of the Midlothian ISD Board of Trustees nor the Midlothian Independent School District where we are proud of our strong value system that focuses on providing a safe and caring learning environment. Our focus each and every day is to ensure our students, staff and parents feel they are a part of an inclusive family where we celebrate the power of diversity.
As a result, our Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting to discuss this issue in closed session on Tuesday, June 2.
For the past two years, our district has taken an aggressive and focused approach to enrich and enhance our culture by implementing a cultural proficiency initiative where every teacher and staff member has received training in having a culturally responsive classroom and department.
Additionally, during the 2019-20 school year, our district launched its first Diversity Council composed of teams of students, teachers, staff, parents and community members from each school and district department. The purpose of this council is to design cultural proficiency goals and serve as an advisory committee to district leadership. With COVID-19, the Council has not completed the developed goals; however, every teacher, staff member and principal has been implementing the training they have received. While we know we still have more work to do in this area, we will continue to do so as we know becoming culturally proficient is an important journey and is always ongoing.
This situation has been incredibly disappointing. Again, these actions do not reflect what we, as a Board or district, stand for – we believe in celebrating the power of diversity where all students and staff are treated like family.
MISD School Board President
Tami Tobey responded on her Facebook page:
By now, most of you have seen the article that came out this morning in reference to a photo of me that was taken at a party in 2012.
There are truly no words that can come close to expressing the remorse I have for my actions. So let me begin with the only words I have. I’m sorry. I love this community and everyone in it. Regardless of my intent at the time, I now understand my choice in Halloween costume was insensitive. After being contacted about these photos on Thursday, I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on how this affects others. I’ve spoken with local African-American leaders, educated myself on the disturbing history of blackface, and considered how I can help bring about positive change.
I truly regret my lack of awareness at the time. I would never knowingly do anything that could be hurtful or divisive. As a leader in our school district, it has always been my goal to be a voice for every family in our community, and it pains me to know that I’ve done something that hurts families who look for me to be that voice.
Moving forward, I commit to listening more, continuing to educate myself, learning from my mistakes, and using it all to do better, whether through my position on the school board, my personal relationships, or any other way I serve my community in order to promote unity and understanding, not division.
I am open to continuing this conversation in a respectful and constructive manner but I recognize that social media is not always the best outlet for that. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond as quickly as I can.