Collingswood to Host Community Conversations After Reported Racial Bias Incidents at High School


Leaders from the district, borough government, local police, and DEI committee outline a plan for engaging the borough community ‘to cultivate inclusivity and combat structural racism.’

By Matt Skoufalos | April 19, 2024

Collingswood High School. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

A week after Collingswood High School (CHS), Collingswood Police, and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO) acknowledged investigating a group of juveniles who reportedly formed a white identity group at CHS, local leaders are working towards solutions to address the underlying issues of institutional racism within the community.

In a joint statement from the borough government, police, school district, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, officials from each “acknowledge[d] the hurt, pain, and fear associated with these allegations, and recognize[d]the impact on many Collingswood residents” those incidents have had.

“We share a clear and strong commitment to focus on healing our community while simultaneously continuing to build on the work we’ve done to create a more inclusive and understanding community,” the letter reads.

“This process requires honesty, openness, empathy, and courage, and we need the help of the community. Collingswood is not immune to the harmful effects of racism. We encourage parents and community members to talk to their children, friends, and neighbors about racism and bias in any form and the profound effects it has on all of us.”

To that end, the borough has pledged:

  • to create a website with resources “on the work to cultivate inclusivity and combat structural racism,” which should be up by May.
  • to host anti-bias workshops discussing “practical strategies for preventing bias, harassment, and discrimination” at the Collingswood Senior Community Center on May 21, and at Perkins Center for the Arts on June 4.
  • to present a panel discussion, “Amplifying Black Voices,” from 7 to 9 p.m. on May 16 at the Collingswood Senior Community Center.


In 2023, Collingswood High School students walked out of class, alleging racial bias from teachers and staff in their building. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

In the interim, officials pointed residents to the state Bias Crime Hotline (1-800-277-BIAS) as well as online resources for reporting bias incidents in the community as well as for students to report Harassment, Intimidation, or Bullying (HIB) incidents.

“It will be a long road and we do not have all the answers,” the letter concludes.

“Let us remain steadfast in the belief that through collective effort and shared responsibility, we can dismantle systemic barriers, foster understanding, and cultivate a culture of equity and belonging for all.”

“We’re not immune from any of the bad things that go on in the country, ever,” Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley said. “It’s been like that forever, and it’s gotten better, but it’s not going away. You just keep working to make it better.”

Collingswood DEI Chair Bruce Smith said that, although the community has been looking for a response to the issues that have emerged in the investigation, rushing to a palliative response risks dismissing the problem instead of driving meaningful change.

“What I think is needed is for people to be sitting with it,” Smith said. “We need to talk to our neighbors. We need to figure out how this has been allowed to go on.”

He is hopeful that the DEI-presented “Amplifying Black Voices” panel discussion will help illuminate for all borough residents the depth of racial issues, both institutional and individual, that continue to define life in Collingswood.

“Every time something happens, all the good people who already agree get together, but the people who need to be held accountable for it aren’t being held accountable,” Smith said.

“It’s time for the people who have been victimized by racism to have their say.”

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