ELK GROVE (CBS13) — The Elk Grove Unified School District board held a community meeting Tuesday to address issues of racism and hate, drawing more than 600 people to the Sheldon High School auditorium.
The problems stem from a disturbing Snapchat video went viral showing a student in the Elk Grove district making racist remarks against the black community. It was an incident that sparked outrage.
“I think you have a number of organizations who are leaning in right now to hold this district accountable,” said Sacramento pastor Les Simmons.
“I am disgusted and appalled by the continued mistreatment of black students within the Elk Grove Unified School District,” said Maureen Prior.
Prior once attended Elk Grove schools, and on Tuesday she was one of 50 people who took to the podium.
“We will no longer accept the excuse of, ‘Oh I didn’t know,’” said Prior.
“Every single day that you wait is not swift enough, another student suffers,” said another speaker.
One by one, teachers, parents, students, community leaders pleaded that the district must do more to address issues of racism and hate, and questioned why it didn’t act sooner.
“It shouldn’t have taken this long to be addressed,” said one 13-year-old student.
“These incidents have been going on for more than a decade, and I know this takes time, but it shouldn’t take 10 years,” said Rachel Francois.
She’s a 17-year-old Pleasant Grove High School senior who many applaud for having the courage to address these issues in a letter to administrators last year, but she says her words fell on deaf ears.
“We shouldn’t be seeing these things happen over and over again,” said Francois.
A Snapchat video of a racist rant by a student who said “black people are trash and they need to die” went viral, and it was the latest incident to spark outrage.
The district admits when it comes to how it handled recent racial incidents that it can and will do more.
“Clearly enough hasn’t happened, enough hasn’t been done, and we can do more,” said district spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton.
“Tonight is an opportunity to not only hear our voices but see our pain and go say we need to fix this,” said Simmons.
The district says Tuesday was, in fact, an opportunity, an opportunity to listen to the community and to let people know that it’s dedicated to making changes and doing more.
“I think we’ve been paying attention more and more since last year and the community is coming forward, and they’re making it loud and clear that we need to pay attention, and we are paying attention,” said Pinkerton.
The district says while they have many equity-based programs already in place, they are stepping up training for their staff and will look for solutions together with the EGUSD staff, parents students, and community.