The storied Brooklyn prep school that found itself mired in an ugly blackface scandal over the weekend has had more than one race problem in recent years, the Daily News has learned.
Two students responsible for a viral blackface video that caused an uproar last week left the world-famous school on Tuesday — and the administration sought to address the matter in a series of meetings with the student body, staffers and parents.
But for some at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School — an elite, private institution that was founded as an all-male, all-white enclave in 1854 — it wasn’t enough, especially in light of two other previously unreported events a few years ago.
On May 3, 2017, Poly Prep staffers found vandals had spray-painted racist messages in a school common room including a swastika and the N-word, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Forty-eight hours later, the head of the school Audrius Barzdukas issued a letter to parents addressing the issue.
“On Wednesday evening, we discovered graffiti on the windows of the Student Center at the Dyker Heights campus that included crude and offensive language and imagery,” wrote Barzdukas. “We immediately closed the center and our maintenance staff removed the writing and drawings.”
But students and parents said no student was punished over the matter. Poly officials said the school was unable to identify a culprit after a month-long investigation
In March 2018, a black eighth-grade student was asked to leave Poly Prep after he stole Rice Krispies Treats from the commissary and took another student’s jacket home from school.
The student admitted to filching the Rice Krispies Treats but said taking the jacket was an innocent accident.
In a letter to Barzdukas, the student explained that he felt he was targeted with harsh punishment because he is black and asked if he could stay at the school.
But he was asked to leave anyway and students at the school held a protest against his dismissal.
The mother of the black student who was asked to leave Poly said she believes the school has deep issues with racism and black students are held to a harsher standard than other kids.
“I don’t want him back at the school,” said the mom, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid backlash against her son.
“I just don’t want any other child of color to suffer at a school where they’re not heard,” she added.
Parents, students and staffers now say Poly Prep needs to turn a new page on the topic of race — stressing that they want things to improve.
“There are a lot of subtle racial incidents that you can find at any school,” said a female junior who asked to remain anonymous. “But this one has to serve as the beacon of change.”
In the wake of the most recent viral video scandal, Poly Prep officials said the school has announced a number of new steps to address issues around race at the school, where 39% of the students are kids of color.
The school has retained an outside firm to study and report on diversity measures there, officials said, and established a task force to ensure equity in student discipline, among other measures.
In a statement posted to the Poly Prep website, Barzdukas spoke out against racism and promised to listen to students.