Clovis Unified officials say the district will re-evaluate and refine its Intercultural Diversity Advisory Councils as a first step to address concerns after students sent racist Snapchat messages about slaves that used the N-word.
At its Wednesday night meeting, the school board unanimously passed a resolution “affirming expectations and policies to create a learning environment characterized by mutual respect and dignity for every student” to signify it’s beginning the process to address race issues on campuses.
Parents called for more action from the district, including announcing consequences for students who participated in the conversation; public recognition of the student who exposed the messages; removal of racist symbols in schools including Confederate flags; and more. If the district doesn’t take more action by Nov. 20, parents will respond by visual demonstrations, Summer Whitley said.
“Continued inaction only serves to heighten the fears and concerns that parents of this community have for the safety of their children,” Vince Bailey said. “I’m imploring everyone here to stand up and speak out publicly against these actions and help everyone feel like they’re safe here in this community.”
It’s going to take time for us to do this right. We don’t just want to put a Band-Aid on it.
Clovis Unified Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell
Clovis Unified began investigating in late September a Snapchat conversation between students joking about racing slaves and using the N-word. The messages came to light after a district student tweeted them out and called on others to report them to the district.
Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell notified families and said the language used in the messages “has absolutely no place in our schools and is contradictory to the character and ethics we expect from our students.”
The district held meetings at each high school for parents, community members and students to discuss the matter. The district reached out to students of color to offer them support and addressed the issue on a classroom level to “reinforce our expectations around mutual respect and character among our diverse student body.”
District officials have said education code and student privacy laws bar them from revealing how or if students were disciplined, sparking further concern among parents. Last week, a video surfaced on social media that identified one of the Buchanan High students who participated in the conversation and showed him being beat up by a black student.
Through the IDAC process, O’Farrell said at Wednesday’s meeting, the district already has examined five key items to help improve race relations, including: recruitment and hiring; staff training; incorporation of diversity in culturally-relevant curriculum; ensuring campuses are places where diversity is embraced; and engaging parents and community partners.
O’Farrell said a 2016 graffiti incident was a clear indicator that the district needed to re-evaluate its partnerships with parents and community members. After that, the district also developed transition teams between middle and high schools and hired a community-relations coordinator.
“It’s going to take time for us to do this right,” she said. “We don’t just want to put a Band-Aid on it. We want to do this thoughtfully and carefully.”