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Calls made to Monroe Schools to act on racism

MONROE — Incidents with racism during November led parents to renew calls to the school district to act.
At last week’s school board meeting, people called on the district to take specific actions: To declare itself as an anti-racist district, to commit to all-staff equity training, and for the district to hire a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) director.
“We are working through details and will be sharing information with our staff and families soon,” spokeswoman Tamara Krache said via email, but did not reply to a question on the district’s timeline.
Melanie Ryan, of the Monroe Equity Council group, spent days talking with families of color hearing their experiences.
One family pulled their sixth grader from Park Place Middle School who was frequently called the N-word by other students, Ryan reported.
The Monroe Equity Council will hold a community panel talk on the lived experiences of students of color Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. over Zoom.
A shortlink to get there is
Panel or find the link through the Monroe Equity Council's Facebook page.
It was the Monroe High School incident that re-intensified calls for action.
"None of us wants to be here tonight. None of us wants to have this discussion. But here we are," Ryan opened in her comments to the board Nov. 22.
“It’s unclear if this will be the incident ... that will cause the district to take action to be an anti-racist district,” Ryan said.
In that incident, a white female student repeatedly used the N-word toward a Black student during a parking lot argument at Monroe High Nov. 10 between the Black male, a white male and the white female.
During the meeting, school board member Jennifer Bumpus said it is time to act.
Pointing to a letter the school board produced June 22, 2020 committing the district to being anti-racist, “unfortunately, we came up short,” Bumpus said. “We need to be accountable.”
Bumpus hadn’t joined the board yet, but it outlined the board’s values, including to use equity as a key reference point for decision making and district governance. It includes to have policies in place to directly address racism.
Now is the time to take action, Bumpus said. It will require steps, but “it’s time. This is our community, this is our home.”
Superintendent Justin Blasko said at the meeting that without a concrete plan to address systemic racism issues, his statements are just words on a page.
Blasko noted the district hired a consultant, Bill De La Cruz, relating to personnel.
“We don’t need you to denounce racism. We need you to do something ... take your dialogue and intentions into action,” mother Junelle Lewis told the board.
Police continue to investigate the Nov. 10 incident as a hate crime, Police Cmdr. Paul Ryan said last week. No new case details were available.

Note to readers:
In last week’s story on the Nov. 10 incident, the description “Black boy” was mistakenly written in describing the Black male, who is a teenager under age 18. The Tribune did not intend to print the word “boy.”




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