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Council Rock Parents Say Schools are Not Doing Enough About Racist Incidents

Council Rock Parents Say Schools are Not Doing Enough About Racist Incidents | Newtown News of Interest | Scoop.it

Less than a year after the Council Rock School District was roiled by reports of scrawled hate symbols and racial incidents, about 40 parents, students, and residents at a community summit Wednesday night complained that incidents of intolerance in classrooms and on social media in the Bucks County district have gotten considerably worse over the past year.

 

“A lot of times I hear from the administration that it’s only a few, that it’s not that big a problem,” said Will Holmes, chairman of the Council Rock Diversity and Inclusion Council, “As part of the 1 to 2 percent of African Americans in this community, it’s a problem.”

 

The meeting at Newtown Friends Meeting — not attended by top district officials — brought forth complaints from parents and students that kids as young as middle school are using or posting images with the N-word on Snapchat, and that administrators were either not proactive enough or failed to communicate clearly about incidents involving Confederate flags, swastikas, or alleged hate speech.

 

“Certainly, in the last year, it’s been very blatant, clear and direct, quite frankly, racism,” said Tania Turner, a black parent with two kids in Council Rock schools and a third who has graduated. She spoke about a recent incident in which an eighth grader recorded his mother saying “stop acting like a n–” and then shared it with other students on Snapchat.

 

Nicole Pierce, who has two children in the district, said that last fall her 6-year-old daughter, who is Guatemalan, was at lunch in the cafeteria at Rolling Hill Elementary School when a support staffer asked kids for whom they were voting. When someone said Trump, the gathering broke into a chant of, “Build the wall!”

 

Last fall, as national tracking groups reported a spike in hate speech and symbols at schools, which many connected to the politically charged atmosphere around the election, Council Rock found itself in the center of the storm.

 

Swastikas and an anti-gay slur were scrawled in bathrooms at Council Rock North High School, a Latina student found a note in her backpack telling her to go back to Mexico, and a student reportedly came to school draped in a Confederate flag.

 

Those late 2016 reports sparked a series of town meetings and creation of the community-wide council, which aimed to monitor incidents in the school, promote conversations about tolerance, and work with district officials on new anti-discrimination policies and programs. The district is about 88 percent white, according to the latest state School Performance Profile, and 1.5 percent of students are African American.

 

“I think what’s going on is, the school district is woefully behind the times when it comes to diversity and inclusion policies, and what they’re doing — what’s really troubling — they’re playing Whack-a-mole when these issues come up,” said Marc Weinstein, a Council Rock parent and lawyer who is a board member of the council. “They’re dealing with these issues on an ad hoc basis, and not updating their diversity and inclusion polices to be real clear.”

 

Council Rock Superintendent Robert Fraser, responding to questions by email, lashed out at the group’s flier promoting the forum and spotlighting some recent incidents as “misleading,” “terribly unfortunate,” and promoting divisiveness. He said the council was overlooking or downplaying a host of district efforts involving training, new curriculum, and special assemblies around the issues of tolerance and inclusion.

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