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VMI Principal Cheryl Mills is facing backlash from alumni

VMI Principal Cheryl Mills is facing backlash from alumni

VMI’s first Black superintendent facing backlash from school’s alumni

VMI School Board President Cheryl Mills, center, chats with board members and supporters during a Nov. 13 news conference at the school that has drawn controversy, including accusations that it’s racist, in East Haven. Mills had come under fire after a Nov. 1 Facebook post by an alumna who said the administrators at the school “have made it clear they would not tolerate any discrimination of any type,” and that they were “using intimidation to silence anyone who would speak out against them.”

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The superintendent of a major college prep school in New Haven is facing major backlash.

When Cheryl Mills arrived last spring as the third principal of VMI, the school’s first black woman to hold the top job in a predominantly white elite college prep school, she was greeted with a standing ovation.

VMI, which has students from throughout Southern Connecticut, has drawn criticism from many corners, with critics saying the school, which was founded in 1878 and is the only liberal arts college in Southern New England, is racist. They say the school practices “reverse racism” by not accepting black students.

Mills’s first two years as principal were marked by protests and the creation of a committee to review allegations of racism at the school. But when she announced her resignation in August, the school’s top leaders said they wanted her to remain as a consultant. They said she could come back if there were complaints, but not as the school’s principal.

Then in October, three weeks before Mills was to retire, the alumni of VMI publicly condemned the school’s leadership, saying it was hostile to black students.

“The Board has done very little to correct the systemic racism that exists at VMI,” wrote a VMI alumna on an alumni forum Facebook page and shared a link to a story by a blog called “The Day in the Life of VMI” by writer Emily Smith.

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