CONCORD -- The principal of Carondelet High School has apologized for a "racially insensitive" menu of fried chicken, watermelon and cornbread planned in honor of Black History Month.

"I'd like to apologize for this announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members," Nancy Libby, principal of the girls' Catholic school, said in a letter issued Tuesday. "Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes, and we indeed work diligently to do just the opposite."

In a second letter that went home with Carondelet students Wednesday, Libby said she was sorry about the "very unfortunate incident" she said prompted difficult discussions with some parents.

Announcement of the lunch menu over the school's public address system on Monday immediately upset teachers and students, Christina Ditzel, Carondelet's communications director, said Thursday.

"We're absolutely very upset that this happened," she said. "It never should have because it does not go along with what we teach here and who we are; and it never would have been approved by any of the administration or teachers."

The Black Student Union, which is run through De La Salle High School -- the neighboring boys' Catholic school -- and includes members from both campuses, wanted to do something to celebrate Black History Month, according to Ditzel.


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Libby's letter was not specific about how the menu decision was made but mentioned that "adults made mistakes causing this situation and that we were doing our best to learn from those mistakes and to bring that knowledge to the CHS experience."

The dishes are no longer on Friday's lunch menu, said Libby, who added that administrators hope to hold a diversity assembly for faculty and students later this month. She also said student and faculty leaders will ensure future cultural celebrations are about "more than food," and include history, tradition, music and dance.

"We are addressing the communication breakdown and using this incident to raise awareness about cultural sensitivity and diversity, so such incidents never again occur in the Carondelet community," Ditzel said in a written statement Thursday.

Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.