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Summerville Addresses Racism Allegations

Tuolumne, CA – Summerville High School Superintendent Dr. John Keiter is defending school policy, after parents complained at last Monday’s School Board meeting that the district is not taking a hard stance on racism.

Racial slurs on campus are considered “severe student misconduct” but parents at a Summerville Board Meeting, including Peggy Blue of Jamestown, felt that the school administration did not follow its policies. Blue cited an incident in which a group of seniors used a racial slur around her daughter.

In response to the Union Democrat article Keiter posted this statement on the Summerville website entitled Relationships, Respect, And Responsibility At Summerville High School.

“Recent reports of hate-related conduct at our school have painted a one-sided picture of reality at Summerville High School. We pride ourselves on respect and teamwork here as we focus daily on student learning. Our freshman class is trained through health class in healthy behaviors toward other students. Our textbook emphasizes communication across cultural boundaries, avoidance of prejudice, conflict resolution, and violence prevention. Sophomores are taught the ravages of racism in world history class, including the damage caused by social Darwinism and Hitler. US history for juniors addresses the scourge of slavery and its impact on our culture from its inception through the civil rights movement to today. Senior class students are taught in our senior seminar class to recognize and appreciate diversity as they prepare for the world of work and family.

A number of our students also received intensive training in peer relationships through Challenge Day as middle school students. Summerville will host our first high school Challenge Day this February. One hundred of our students will receive the intensive Challenge Day curriculum focused on appreciation of diversity, truth, and respect. The newspaper featured Summerville students who were active participants in recent Martin Luther King Day ceremonies, delivering speeches in appreciation of Dr. King’s efforts to make our world a better place.

We appreciated the constructive criticisms we received at a recent school board meeting. We are arranging a group of parents and community members to provide input as to how we can further improve the climate on our campus so that our students and staff fully appreciate one and other as human beings.

Our discipline code indicates that we do not tolerate hate-motivated behavior. If such conduct is confirmed, whether it be through speech, drawings, writing, text messages, tattoos, clothing, or physical conduct, we take action to bring that conduct to an end. We comply with Education Code that requires us to attempt other means of correction before suspension, but if proper conduct is not brought about through education, we will suspend or even expel offenders. We are first and foremost an educational institution, and we will try educational means to bring about proper conduct as a starting point in the disciplinary process.”

I invite any parent or community member to give me input as to how we can improve and refine our climate on campus.