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Racist messages haven’t been addressed, say these Clovis parents who have a plan

Shawn Wills, a parent, discusses the need for action regarding racism and intolerance at Clovis Unified schools during a meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017.
Shawn Wills, a parent, discusses the need for action regarding racism and intolerance at Clovis Unified schools during a meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. apanoo@fresnobee.com

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of parent Shawn Wills in a photo caption and incorrectly stated the school that parent Chris Milton’s children attend.

A group of about 30 Clovis Unified parents met Monday night at the Hilton Garden Inn to discuss tolerance and inclusion, and how to address the board about racially-demeaning Snapchat messages shared by students in September.

Parent Summer Whitley planned to take what was discussed to the Clovis Unified board meeting on Wednesday. She said the district is taking too long to enact change, and she wants to present a plan that won’t take time or much planning to implement.

Included in what Whitley will present is a call for the removal of racist symbols on school grounds, including graffiti of swastikas and confederate flags, she said.

She also wants an award assembly for the girl who posted about the Snapchat messages on Twitter to show students it’s OK to come forward. She hopes the Future Farmers of America will release a statement that they are not associated with the incident, since one of the messages from the screenshots says it was an FFA group chat.

She also wants to ask for accountability for teachers, in that it should be made mandatory to document every incident of racism and a clear set of rules about what the consequences are.

Chris Milton, a parent who helped organize the event, said his kids have experienced racism at school but have kept quiet about it.

“My kids go to a Clovis high school and they tell me, ‘Nothing happens anyway, so we just go along with it,’ ” he said.

Parents voiced a need for a diversity coordinator, or someone whose job it is to promote diversity and tolerance on campuses. They also want more non-white teachers hired.

“There are so few African-American teachers,” said parent Nick Whitley. He said students will only learn tolerance by interacting with people different from themselves.

“I asked my son, ‘How many people have come to speak to your class that are not Caucasian?’ His answer was zero.”

Whitley said it will take time to hire teachers of different ethnicities, but speakers could be brought in.

“They need to change the faces they interact with on a daily basis,” he said.

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPan

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