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Parent describes racial bullying of son: 'He said he was upset, but that he's used to it'

Parents in Lake Oswego are rallying behind a woman who said her son is a victim of ongoing racial bullying.

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Marja Martinez
LAKE OSWEGO, OREGON — Parents in Lake Oswego are rallying behind a woman who said her son is a victim of ongoing racial bullying.

Jennifer Cook said her 13-year-old son was sitting in class at Lake Oswego School District when three classmates handed him a note.

The note had two words: The "N-word" and the word "dog."

Cook said it was heartbreaking to hear that slur used against her biracial son, but it was even more shocking to learn it wasn't the first time.

"He said that he was upset, but that he's used to it because he hears that word five to 20 times a day at school," Cook said.

The Lake Oswego School District has dealt with other recent racial issues.

In November 2017, teachers at Lake Oswego High School found anti-Semitic posts on a student-run Facebook page. A week later, a student found racist graffiti on a bathroom wall.

In response, some students organized a walkout during school hours and showed their support for students of color.

After what happened at the junior high last week, the Lake Oswego School District released a statement saying, in part, "LOSD does not tolerate hate speech, bullying, harassment, or any other type of behavior that makes students and parents feel unwelcome in our schools."

The statement goes on to detail the district's response to what happened.

"A racial incident occurred at Lake Oswego Junior High School on Friday. School administrators responded immediately with consequences for the student, but more importantly administrators are working with the involved students using restorative justice strategies," according to administrators.

Some parents say the issues won't be resolved until there is more representation of minority groups within the district. Others are skeptical of that.

"You shouldn't need diversity to be able to know how to treat other human beings," said Cook's friend Mia Smith.

The school's principal published a blog in which she states the school has recently created an equity committee to examine its curriculum and practices in order to make it more inclusive.

She invited parents to join in on the conversation.

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