South Washington School District parents say they’ve had enough.
Several parents say their children have been called derogatory names at school and on social media. Instead of the administration stepping in, they say, the kids are dealing with the racism on their own.
Jodie Carroll, who has two daughters in the school district, said she asked the district to announce a zero-tolerance policy toward racism at a schoolwide assembly, but has been rejected.
“They have assemblies for bullying, isn’t this along the same line?” Carroll said. “My kids are traumatized, and so are other students who are afraid to speak up and have no one to help them.”
On Wednesday, members of the African-American Leadership Council (AALC) held a news conference outside Woodbury High School denouncing racism at several schools in the district and what they characterized as inaction by administrators.
In response to the news conference, the school district issued a statement saying its “top priority is to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive learning environment for all of our students.”
Tyrone Terrill, president of AALC, said he went to the school district in May 2016 with a list of 15 “things we want them to do and left the ball in their hands.”
Terrill said that in recent weeks parents have been saying that their kids were being called racial slurs “and it hasn’t stopped and the district had not done anything. No matter what they are doing it is not enough, because students are still calling them’’ those names.
Terrill said he asked the district to send a letter to all parents saying such behavior would not be allowed, but that has not been done.
The district defended itself, saying it “is not unlike other districts that are dealing with culture and climate issues, which are reflective of the challenges facing our broader society. To respond, the district’s Office of Equity and Integration has been dedicated to addressing the issues in our schools for several years.” The statement continued, “we recognize proactive and ongoing work is necessary to educate our students and community about the impact of their words and actions, as well as to help our students grow a deeper understanding of the diverse cultures that make up our district.”
Carroll’s daughter, Jaida Hutchinson, a sophomore, said she told the administration about a classmate at Woodbury High School continuously using a derogatory word.
The principal said she would reach out after talking to the student, Hutchinson said. “But that didn’t happen, so I ended up taking care of the matter personally and told him it wasn’t right for him to say it,” Hutchinson said. “I get the feeling I wasn’t the only person he was saying it to.”