Playground Signs Create Controversy

The original photo posted to Dan Gaffney's Facebook page.
The original photo posted to Dan Gaffney’s Facebook page.

**UPDATE** – The sign at each playground have been taken down by the Milford School District. According to Superintendent Phyllis Kohel, a decision on whether to replace the signs will be made. 


Original Story:

In the past 48 hours, signs located at several Milford School District playgrounds, including Mispillion Elementary and Lulu Ross Elementary Schools, have been the focus of public controversy, particularly across local social media. The signs in question were first reported by local radio talk show host Dan Gaffney of Milford on Saturday, January 5, when he posted an image of the sign on his Facebook page.

The sign located next to the schools’ playground equipment states in English that “parental or guardian supervision is required for the use of this playground equipment. Play at your own risk.” Below that statement is another statement in Spanish stating “ustedes debe tener un permiso para jugar en este campo. Violadores seran susceptibles a accion policial.” The English interpretation reads “you must have a permit to play in this field. Violators will be subject to police action.”

Another sign in the district carrying the same language as the controversial sign, this one in both English and Spanish. Photo by Margaret Reyes.
Another sign in the district carrying the same language as the controversial sign, this one in both English and Spanish. Photo by Margaret Reyes.

Mr. Gaffney stated that he thought it odd and wrong about the different messages portrayed on the signs and commented that he often post curiosities and potential radio topics on Facebook before air time. Mr. Gaffney stated on his Facebook post about the sign that “Only in Spanish does it say you must have a permit to play or be subject to police action. I think Milford Schools are trying to keep “certain ethnic” people away. Shame.”

After hearing about the signs Margaret Reyes made a point to visit all the playgrounds in the Milford School District and take a photo of each to be compared with each other. As a former member of the Delaware Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, Ms. Reyes has had experience dealing with language access and civil rights for Hispanics in the state of Delaware.

“I wanted to confirm their existence. I wanted to see where exactly they were placed, in what areas exactly, as this might explain why they were posted at all, there are many questions unanswered as of yet,” commented Ms. Reyes. “I don’t like jumping to conclusions , I won’t cast aspersions as to motive, however that said, there is no excuse for the translation, it is not mis-translation at all.”

Superintendent Phyllis Kohel of the Milford School District explains that the controversy regarding the sign was brought to her attention yesterday and since then she has requested that the signs be taken down until they are interpreted and reviewed.

“Not knowing exactly what the sign says and how it is interpreted, I have contacted our maintenance department at the Milford School District and asked them to take it down,” stated Superintendent Kohel. “I do not believe that there was any intent to discriminate against any one group of people and I am absolutely sure that there is no intention to have one set of rules for one group and another set of rules for another. If the sign is leaning towards expressing any discrimination towards any group of people it will be taken down.”

Milford LIVE will provide updates as they become available.