School district confronts several reports of racial abuse
Posted September 14
CONCORD, N.H. — The superintendent of a New Hampshire school district attempted Thursday to assure parents there's "no room for intolerance" in its schools following reports of racial incidents involving students, including taunts and racist jokes.
Oyster River Cooperative School District Superintendent Jim Morse said in a letter to parents the district is considering measures to address the incidents. It also is looking at how it can enhance the diversity in its curriculum and will hold a community forum, Morse wrote.
"These issues have given me significant pause," Morse said. "There is no room for racism, sexism, homophobia, or antisemitism in our schools. Incidents likes this cannot simply be fixed with punishments. We need to look at how we treat each other and how we expect others to treat us as members of the same human community."
Earlier this month, an elementary school student was taunted while riding home on a school bus. A second incident involved racial jokes at a middle school. The district said "disciplinary measures" were taken in both cases, and the bus incident was referred to the Durham police.
The district did not provide specific details of the incidents, including the ethnicity of the victims or the perpetrators.
Morse said the district, which encompasses several seacoast communities, is looking at how it can enhance the diversity in its curriculum, reviewing its diversity training and considering holding a community forum. The school board also directed the district to review the way it handles complaints of racism.
"I have worked with the adults in this school community and I know we share common values of loving support for our students," Morse said in the letter to parents. "I ask that any form of discrimination, whether it be race, gender, religion or sexuality be reported immediately. I believe in you as parents and community members, as well as our educators and support staff, to recommit to the value of inclusiveness for which we are known."
The incidents come as another New Hampshire community is dealing with the fallout from an alleged racial incident several weeks ago in which biracial boy was nearly hanged by a group of teenagers.
The boy's grandmother said the teens taunted him with racial slurs Aug. 28 in the mostly white town of Claremont and pushed him off a picnic table with a rope around his neck. The boy was treated at a hospital for injuries to his neck and has been released.
Claremont police Chief Mark Chase said his department is investigating a "serious incident" involving juveniles in which an 8-year-old was hurt but declined to provide details.
This story has been corrected to show the superintendent said there's no room for intolerance, not tolerance.