With just a couple of weeks before the new school year started, a Monmouth County, New Jersey official decided it was time to end a swimming pool policy that discriminated against low-income, mostly Black and Hispanic, kids.
There was no shortage of poolside racial discrimination cases in 2018—from Pool Patty to the Tennessee property manager who called cops on a Black man for rule infractions that white pool also violated. Indeed, there’s a long history of pool discrimination that includes a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
In this latest incident, County officials, responding to a complaint from summer camp director Kimber Washington, released a letter on Wednesday explaining why a policy had been in place for three years that restricted kids in subsidized camp programs from bringing their towels and other belongings into the fenced-in pool area and from using the basketball court, NJ.com reported.
“I sincerely apologize that your summer camp had an unpleasant experience. An outing to the park should certainly be a fun and memorable experience and if we have fallen short in providing this for your group, then it is my job to make improvements wherever we can,” Monmouth County Superintendent of Recreation Patti Conroy wrote.
Lifeguards told Washington’s counselors during an Aug. 9 visit that kids in her Neptune, New Jersey-based program had to leave their belongings in a gazebo outside the pool area. A lifeguard had also taken away a basketball the kids were using in the playground area. White children enrolled in the county’s camp program did not have those same restrictions.
Washington, a retired public school teacher, complained about the mistreatment in a letter to Conroy, copied to local NAACP chapters and the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders.
“I am writing to express my concern about the discriminatory practices experienced by my students and staff at Fort Monmouth pools today. I suggest you modify this situation immediately,” Washington wrote.
Going forward, kids in subsidized programs will be permitted to bring their belongs into the pool area and shoot hoops.