ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Once, twice, and they’re out. Albany Central School District says they were nice enough to give a warning the first time a construction worker at the Albany High expansion site showed up in a car with a Confederate flag decal on the hood.
“We don’t tolerate hate symbols or things like that in our district. It’s discriminatory practice, it’s racist practices, and we’re not supporting that,” says Superintendent Kaweeda Adams.
Adams says after students started spreading photos of the car across social media Monday, the district reached out to Turner Construction, the company that contracted the worker. He was asked to take the car off school property and not return with it, but when that man returned and parked the car in front of the school again the next day, he was done.
“It absolutely contributes to the social and emotional wellbeing of our students and our families, and so with that, that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to make sure that we had all the right people at the table very quickly so that we could address this situation,” Adams explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Adams says the district has kept Albany Police, the Albany County District Attorney’s office, and local unions in the loop since the problem first appeared. She adds after this weekend’s tragic and racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, they need to take any and every precaution protecting students and staff from danger and stress.
“How could we not, as people of color, be on edge about these types of activities? Absolutely people of color and I think all people in our community, because you don’t know how far this will reach,” she says.
Turner Construction replies to NEWS10 Wednesday the worker is a third party contractor and not employed by the company. However, they say such a display is unacceptable:
Turner Construction Company has zero tolerance for bias and hate. On Monday, we became aware that an employee of one of the trade contractors working on the Albany High School project parked his car at the school with a Confederate flag on its hood. This individual is not an employee of Turner.
There is no place for hate at our jobsite and the display of the Confederate flag is totally unacceptable. In response, we spoke to all contractors working on site – including the individual who owned the car – to explain how important it is to have an environment free of racism and hate and where all people feel welcomed and treated with respect. The individual was asked to move his car off campus and not to return with it. The individual complied with the request.
On Tuesday, the same vehicle was parked directly in front of the high school. We connected with the employer of the individual to communicate that he is not welcome on this project.
We will continue to collaborate with our client, trade partners, and unions to make clear to every person on site that we are unified and remain steadfast in our commitment to foster respect within our workplace and will take action when we see racism, bias, and hate.Turner Construction Company
A Turner representative further clarifies Wednesday this individual will not be welcomed back at any Turner jobsite. While this worker may have his rights to free speech in his own time, Adams adds he’s not free from hiring standards.
“We get to determine those folks that we do business with, that we enter into a contract with,” she says.