Crisis Management Plan: School Black History Event

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    School Black History Event: Crisis Management Plan

    Taking a minute to think about potential negative perceptions is a must when making any decision.

    In a crisis that falls decisively under the “what the #$%& were they thinking?” category, a student committee at Northern California’s Carondelet High School for Girls decided that the best way to celebrate Black History Month was with a lunchtime feast of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon.

    Although the lunch was conceived by students, clearly the school’s administration gave the green light to this celebration, and apparently, none of the adults involved stopped to consider that their decision might be just a *wee* bit controversial. Scary, huh?

    How would the school respond to the quite-understandable outrage this provoked from students and parents? NBC Bay Area’s Cheryl Hurd reports:

    The principal and dean of the school refused to talk to NBC Bay Area on Wednesday, but school officials held an assembly on campus to discuss the issue and sent an apology letter to parents.

    “I’d like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members,” Principal Nancy Libby said in the letter. “Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes.”

    As you might expect, the entire menu has been scrapped, and we’d bet everyone at Carondelet will be a bit more careful about the choices they make for school events in the future. While one mistake of this type will probably blow over relatively quickly, making another won’t be so easily forgiven.

    It doesn’t take a crisis management plan master to spot simple, easily-avoidable problems like this one. Nourish a culture where people feel free to speak up about their concerns, and for the love of everything just stop and think, “How could this create a problem?” for a minute before you make any type of decision!

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]