Lubbock-Cooper, Slaton ISD pass resolutions condemning racism, promising to stand against discrimination
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock-Cooper and Slaton ISD have passed resolutions condemning racism and reaffirming their commitment to maintaining a safe learning environment on Thursday night, in response to an offensive Instagram post made back in April.
The complaints started back on April 13, 2022, when administrators were made aware of an anonymous Instagram account that used an offensive term to describe LCISD students.
The district released this statement on Thursday, detailing the steps they took in response to this incident, having the unauthorized account removed from Instagram, meeting with parents, retraining staff, and reminding students about disciplinary consequences for offensive behavior.
You can read the complete resolution from the district below:
RESOLUTION OF THE LUBBOCK-COOPER INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF TRUSTEES
At a lawfully called meeting on January 5, 2023, the Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District Board of Trustees (“Board”) does hereby make the following Resolution regarding the use of racial slurs, harassment, hate speech, or derogatory language within the District and the consequences thereto:
On April 13, 2022, Lubbock-Cooper ISD administrators and Trustees were made aware of the creation of an anonymous Instagram account that used the name and likeness of Lubbock-Cooper ISD, displayed photos of black Laura Bush Middle School students (and some individuals who were not Laura Bush Middle School or Lubbock-Cooper ISD students), and referred to these students by an offensive, racist term. Despite use of the district’s logo and the Laura Bush Middle School campus name, the account was unauthorized and completely unaffiliated with Lubbock-Cooper ISD and Laura Bush Middle School. When Lubbock-Cooper ISD administrators were made aware of the account, district staff took immediate action to have the account removed from Instagram, citing hate speech, harassment, and impersonation. The account was removed by Instagram within hours of these reports; however, administrators continued an investigation into the creator of the account. This investigation included hours of student interviews, the offer of a monetary reward for information leading to the discovery of the account’s creator, and assistance from resources outside of the district. Superintendent Keith Bryant contacted a representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an attempt to identify the creator of the account, and received the following response:
“I had two different people from our intelligence branch trying to dig into this… It looks like the only way we would be able to get subscriber information etc. is to take it to Grand Jury to get a subpoena. In order to do that, we would need the United States Attorney’s Office to open a case. However; I really don’t see them willing to do that, because it’s highly likely that the owner of that account is a minor, whom it cannot be prosecuted in the federal courts. Long story short: we are not going to be able to help you out.”
Social media accounts are outside the jurisdiction of a school district, and can be created under anonymity and with the protection of social media companies. Still, the investigation into the creation of the account remains open, and Lubbock-Cooper ISD plans to pursue the maximum disciplinary and/or criminal charges available if the creator of the account is identified.
After being contacted by the parents of three students victimized by the Instagram account who requested a joint meeting related to the incident, Superintendent Bryant scheduled the requested combined meeting. After learning that several unknown parties had been invited to the meeting without the knowledge of all parents involved, and considering the sensitive and private nature of the student matters to be discussed during the meeting, Superintendent Bryant canceled the combined meeting and contacted each parent individually to schedule individual meetings. One of the parents accepted the offer of the rescheduled meeting. The two remaining parents declined the offer of the rescheduled meeting.
On April 21, 2022, three Laura Bush Middle School families spoke at a meeting of the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees regarding the damaging nature of the aforementioned Instagram account and reporting additional racially-motivated incidents experienced by their children at the hands of some fellow Laura Bush Middle School students. The Board considered these reports disheartening, concerning, and urgent, and directed the superintendent to investigate the reported incidents, take prompt action to mitigate and eradicate any future incidents of a similar nature, and provide an update at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees on May 19, 2022.
The district took immediate action to eradicate racially-motivated incidents at Laura Bush Middle School. This included dispatching additional administrators to the Laura Bush Middle School campus to observe and identify students exhibiting racist behavior and administer appropriate discipline, notifying all Laura Bush Middle School families of the reports and requesting they initiate conversations with their children about the damaging nature of racist rhetoric, directly addressing the Laura Bush Middle School student body by grade level to communicate the seriousness of these hateful actions and the severity of the resulting disciplinary consequences, and reiterating to Laura Bush Middle School staff the expectations for addressing and exterminating racially-motivated behaviors, actions, and speech exhibited by students.
Lubbock-Cooper ISD administrators also implemented a standardized parent communication practice in the event of any incident resulting in disciplinary action, to include direct contact with the parents of not only the perpetrator but also the victim, when applicable. Administrators also began the practice of contacting the parents of student victims of derogatory social media posts any time an administrator was made aware of an incident of this nature, even in cases during which the account is unrelated to the school or school matters.
Although racially-motivated incidents have always been considered disciplinary offenses by Lubbock-Cooper ISD, in May 2022, the district implemented a standardized, more severe disciplinary protocol for racially-motivated incidents. The updated disciplinary protocol includes automatic in-school suspension on the first offense and automatic placement in the district’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) upon subsequent offenses.
In the weeks following the April reports, the Laura Bush Middle School student body was once again addressed by grade level and reminded of campus behavior expectations and the responsibility of all students to report any and all racially-motivated behaviors, actions, or speech. On May 6, 2022, influential staff members reflecting the diverse Laura Bush Middle School student population, several with a background in diversity in education, presented to the Laura Bush Middle School student body. Messages included the importance of unity, respecting diversity and differences, accountability, being upstanding citizens, being responsible digital citizens, and the responsibilities that students have to care for one another and care for humanity as a whole. Staff members also shared personal accounts and encouraged students to anonymously submit any questions or concerns they may have regarding the school’s culture which were addressed by campus administrators.
Throughout April and May, Superintendent Bryant met individually with five district families, upon their request, to discuss the reports of racially-motivated incidents, explain the district’s course of action, and learn about their children’s experiences and/or perspectives. Among the parents from the Laura Bush Middle School families who spoke at the April 21, 2022 Board meeting, one family expressed to Superintendent Bryant that they had no desire to meet with him, one family failed to appear at a scheduled meeting with Superintendent Bryant and declined to reschedule, and the third family had already unenrolled their child from the district.
On May 6, 2022, Superintendent Bryant sent an electronic letter to all families in the district, notifying them of the action taken by the district to eradicate racially-motivated incidents, explaining future plans, and imploring parents to provide support. An excerpt from the letter is included below:
“It is the responsibility of all LBMS and LCISD students, staff, and administrators to put an end to racist behavior at school. It is my sincere hope that you will open or continue age-appropriate conversations with your children about this, making sure they understand that it is both extremely serious and completely unacceptable.
Racism has no place at any school within Lubbock-Cooper ISD. It is not a reflection of our beliefs as a school and it completely contradicts the virtues we wish to instill in our students. It is not now, has never been, and will not ever be who we are.
Center to the culture of this district, our shared core value, is family. The thousands of members of this community, representing a variety of races, backgrounds, cultures, socioeconomic levels, beliefs, and more, consider themselves part of a single entity: one huge family. Every individual in this community is part of this family, and they all deserve to be treated as such.”
As requested by the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees, Superintendent Keith Bryant reported to the Board during the regularly scheduled meeting on May 19, 2022, providing an update on the actions outlined above and the plans to prevent future incidents of a similar nature. Superintendent Bryant’s update included a report of disciplinary findings for the Spring 2022 semester at Laura Bush Middle School. Of the approximately 1,000 students enrolled at Laura Bush Middle School during the Spring 2022 semester, it was determined that approximately 20 students had engaged in the reported behaviors while the remaining approximately 980 students had not engaged in the reported behaviors.
Over the summer, all Lubbock-Cooper ISD staff members received Cultural Competence and Racial Bias training. The Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees also approved the hiring of a third Laura Bush Middle School assistant principal to provide disciplinary assistance, assist in monitoring student behavior, and assist in fostering a positive campus culture.
Throughout the fall semester, all secondary faculty members received ongoing training in Equitable Instruction or Culturally Responsive Teaching. District administrators have also worked with area leaders to introduce a training program during the spring semester regarding ways to ensure a sense of belonging for students of all races, Belongingness as Organizational Emotional Intelligence.
Secondary campuses have hosted a number of class and grade level meetings specifically addressing student expectations and outlining the disciplinary consequences of racially-motivated behaviors, actions, and speech. A Laura Bush Middle School faculty/student organization, Better Together, has been founded to celebrate diversity and recognize and honor the many cultures represented on campus.
In the eight months following the initial reports to the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees and district superintendents regarding the racially-motivated incidents at Laura Bush Middle School, no grievances have been filed with district administrators or the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees. During the 2022-23 school year, no Lubbock-Cooper ISD parents or students have reported any additional racially-motivated incidents to the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees or any district superintendent.
WHEREAS, the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees is committed to maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment for students of all races, cultures, and ethnicities.
WHEREAS, Lubbock-Cooper ISD is a diverse, multicultural school community in which 0.21% of the student population is American Indian or Alaska Native, 2.01% of the student population is Asian, 2.50% of the student population is Black or African American, 39.55% of the student population is Hispanic/Latino, 53.08% of the student population is White, .08% of the student population is Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and 2.57% of the student population represents two or more races. (Lubbock-Cooper ISD TSDS PEIMS 2022-23 Fall Collection).
WHEREAS, the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees believes that every child deserves to feel safe, loved, respected, and supported.
WHEREAS, a culture of family is the core value of the Lubbock-Cooper ISD community.
WHEREAS, it is the belief of the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees that any child experiencing racism or discrimination is one child too many.
THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Lubbock-Cooper ISD Board of Trustees:
Condemns all racially-motivated behaviors, actions, or speech;
Pledges to stand against any and all acts of racism and discrimination against Lubbock-Cooper ISD students, employees, and community members; and
Commits to support Lubbock-Cooper ISD administrators in any and all actions to end racism and discrimination among students and ensure a positive school culture of belongingness and environment of respect and love for ALL students. This support includes, but is not limited to, the facilitation of regular campus student, parent, and faculty surveys, the provision of increased administrative support, and the allocation of resources for continued diversity- and culture-based professional development and student education opportunities.
RESOLUTION OF THE SLATON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF TRUSTEES
At a lawfully called meeting on January 5, 2023, the Slaton Independent School District Board of Trustees does hereby make the following Resolution regarding the use of racial slurs, harassment, hate speech, or derogatory language within the District and the consequences thereto:
Slaton Independent School District (“SISD” or the “District”) and its Board of Trustees and its Administration has taken proactive measures prior to any complaints by students of racial slurs, harassment, or bullying.
In May 2022, an all-student assembly was held with Principal Mario Aguirre highlighting student expectation for preventing use of racial slurs, racial hate speech, and derogatory language, including use of swear words. Consequences increase from an immediate office referral to three days in ISS. Thereafter, a student used a racial slur and was appropriately disciplined.
On August 11, 2022, in a freshman orientation for high school, expectations were outlined with parents and students regarding all manners of behavior, including bullying, hazing, name-calling, rumor spreading, threats, assault, taunting, teasing, and theft. The students were advised on how to report, including QR codes around the campus monitored by MTSS and an introduction of the administration team and counseling personnel to assure a safe place for all students.
On August 19, 2022, the administration hosted a school-wide assembly with all students detailing expectations for acceptable and unacceptable behaviors with all students and faculty regarding racial slurs. It was made very clear to everyone that the use of racial slurs warranted an immediate three days of mandatory ISS.
On September 14, 2022, administration had a second all-school assembly regarding safety concerns and once again discussed inappropriate racial slurs and the consequences that followed if students used racial slurs.
Between the time of August 16 and December 5, 2022, there were 14 discipline referrals for racial slurs turned into the office and investigated. One hundred percent of those cases ended in three days of ISS placement.
On November 10, 2022, the Board, for the first time, heard from citizens and a student that the use of racial slurs was being used at Slaton High School. Thereafter, on November 15, 2022, the administration team reviewed the consequences of racial slurs, hate speech, and derogatory language and it was determined that the consequences would be increased for the first incident to five days of ISS. A second incident would result in 10 days of ISS and a third incident would result in 30 days of DAEP.
On Monday, November 28, 2022, the discipline increase was communicated to all high school students, and from that time until the present, there have been no complaints regarding the use of racial slurs, harassment, hate speech, or derogatory language.
On January 3, 2023, the entire staff had training on prevention of racial slurs, hate speech, bullying, and harassment and their consequences. The Board of Trustees and the staff and administration have a zero tolerance for racial harassment, bullying, and racial slurs. Once notified, immediate action will be investigated and implemented.
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of Slaton ISD publicly condemns any acts of students or staff who might use racial slurs or harass or bully other students; WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees expects all students to have an environment which is safe and healthy for education to flourish;
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees commends the administration and staff in their continued attempts to create a non-hostile environment for its students and directs them to continue in their efforts to make sure that each student is in a good and educational environment;
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees affirms the zero tolerance policy in the District for racial slurs, harassment, and bullying and affirms the increase in discipline to help to resolve any issues; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees appreciates the citizens and students advising them of their concerns and is always willing to try to immediately resolve those concerns.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE SLATON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT:
I. That the Board of Trustees publicly condemns any acts of students or staff who might use racial slurs or harass or bully other students;
2. That the Board of Trustees expects all students to have an environment which is safe and healthy for education to flourish;
3. That the Board of Trustees commends the administration and staff in their continued attempts to create a non-hostile environment for its students and directs them to continue in their efforts to make sure that each student is in a good and educational environment; and
4. That the Board of Trustees affirms the zero tolerance policy in the District for racial slurs, harassment, and bullying and affinns the increase in discipline to help to resolve any issues; and
PASSED AND APPROVED by the Slaton Independent School Trustees this 5th day of January 2023.
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