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Parents speaking out about concerns over racial slurs at metro Detroit school

Posted: 6:32 PM, Nov 03, 2017
Updated: 2017-11-03 18:33:12-04

Khary Mason won't forget what his 13-year-old son told him earlier this week.

The 8th grader, who attends West Middle School in Rochester Hills, said someone screamed the N word on the bus while they were on their way back from a school field trip.

Mason says his son told him it didn't end there. He said that student also shared a racially offensive joke.

Columbus Ward's 13 year-old daughter is friend's with Mason's son. He says his daughter has had similar experiences.

"The N word .. getting called names .. a lot of disgusting things," says Ward.

Both fathers hope speaking out will lead to positive changes.

We reached out to Rochester Community Schools for comment and were told, "The actions that were described in the Facebook posting are not representative of the values of our school community."

The district couldn't discuss disciplinary measures, but say it "does not tolerate acts of harassment, bullying, prejudice, or discrimination."

They say in those cases, "the schools take strict and immediate action."

Mason and Ward hope there will be more cultural diversity training and conversations on racism.

They both met with the principal and vice-principal of the school on Friday afternoon. They described the meeting as positive and productive and look forward to working with them to make positive changes.

Mason added, "Also, my hope is, if anyone is suffering in silence and chose not to say anything that they speak up."

The district sent the following letter to parents:

Dear Community Members,

It saddens me to have to write this letter. You may be hearing news reports of an incident that took place at one of our schools where some of our students were made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome due to a prejudicial comment.

Although we cannot provide details about disciplinary measures taken in specific situations, we can tell you that the Rochester Community School District does not tolerate acts of harassment, bullying, prejudice, or discrimination. In these instances, our schools will take strict and immediate action.

We abide by a respect code and stand firm in our beliefs that state:

All individuals are entitled to a physically, emotionally and intellectually safe learning and work environment. It is our responsibility to address discriminatory statements and actions.

All individuals are entitled to be valued. Various customs, lifestyles, and backgrounds contribute to an enriched learning environment.

All individuals are entitled to be treated equitably. Education increases awareness and understanding and promotes human dignity.

We encourage all parents to review the RCS Respect Code with their son or daughter. It is attached for your convenience.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Robert Shaner, Ph.D.

Superintendent