SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A string of racist incidents is sparking outrage and calls for change within the Sacramento City Unified School District.
Several schools have been vandalized with hateful messages, including two just in the past week.
Tuesday marked the latest incident, with hateful graffiti being found at Abraham Lincoln Elementary in Rancho Cordova where multiple buildings were tagged with messages reading "KKK", the n-word and a drawing of a swastika.
"We don't want to keep creating a division," said district parent Savannah Freeman.
On Friday at McClatchy High School, writing was used to segregate two water fountains. Safiya Neal's daughter saw the message.
"I feel like it's a multi-mission attack because this is Black History Month. If you're a brining this type of history, during the month when we are suppose to be celebrating you're attacking us," Neal said.
Langston White is a student at the school. His guardian gave us permission to share his feelings.
"It's high school. People aren't suppose to be putting disgusting things up," White said. "It's suppose to be an environment for everyone to be safe."
In November at West Campus High School, Assistant Principal Dr. Elysse Versher's parking spot was tagged with graffiti using the n-word, and she says she was harassed by students. After months of a district-led investigation, she still has no answers.
"They have not been held responsible, they have not been held accountable and that brings me unease and what it does is sent a message that we can be racist," she said.
Versher says the behavior has continued, explaining that on Thursday, posters made by students meant to highlight Black excellence for Black History Month instead displayed statistics on Black debt and unemployment.
"When leadership fails to address acts of racism, it lets everyone know that they have a free pass to continue the behavior," Versher said.
Berry Accius, a community youth activist, is in touch with parents throughout the district. He is concerned about the impacts these incidents are having on students.
"My greatest fear in reality is that these racist and hateful bits of rhetoric that we continue to see that occurs in Sac City Unified, that this is going to become normalized behavior that eventually will traumatize Black students for generations to come," he said.
CBS13 asked the district what they are doing to address and prevent racism in the district. In a statement, they said they are working with law enforcement, hired an attorney focusing on social justice issues, implemented anti-racism training for staff, and are promoting "social emotional learning." The district said, in part:
"SCUSD continues to provide information to law enforcement for their investigations into these incidents. The District has conducted outreach to families and community leaders to both inform and condemn incidents of racism and provide transparency. Support services are available to students and staff experiencing trauma as a result of these hateful acts. What we learn as a result of these incidents continues to inform the work we do to confront racism District wide in all of our schools."
"Sac City Unified has also implemented mandatory anti-racism training for all staff and district leaders. Sac City Unified negotiated a day of anti-racism mandatory training for all teachers as part of professional development at the start of the school year. School site leaders, the district's leadership team, and the Sac City Unified School Board members have participated in the same anti-racism training."
Rodney Diggs, Versher's attorney' released a statement on the matter, saying:
"The so called "Black excellence" posters spread across West Campus High School that depicted African Americans as unemployed, debt ridden, and absentee parents is a microcosm of the passive and overt racism my client has endured for years, while serving as the Vice Principal. Sacramento School District simply refuses to take action to protect its teachers and administrators of color, specifically, the black faculty. The latest racist graffiti and overt racist incidents at West Campus High, CK McClatchy High, Luther Burbank High, and Abraham Lincoln Elementary reveal the systemic inequities and disparities that must be addressed so my client, African American staff, and African American students do not continue to suffer from stress and PTSD as it relates to the severe and pervasive racial harassment evident at SCUSD schools. This has to stop and SCUSD will be held accountable for its actions/inactions."
The district is still working to figure out who is behind the racist vandalism. Community activists are holding a call to action Thursday at Abraham Lincoln Elementary to discuss the latest incident. The NAACP has also called for a press conference the same day in the afternoon at McClatchy High.
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