• Sun. Nov 28th, 2021

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Utah School District Ignored Racial Harassment for Years, Report Says

In October 2019, a white elementary school student dressed up as Hitler for Halloween, giving the Nazi salute as he marched in a parade through the hallways, the department said. Staff members did not stop him or report him to the school’s administrators, the report said.

Sometimes, white students would demand that their Black peers give them permission to use racial slurs directed at Black people. When Black students resisted, they were “sometimes threatened or physically assaulted,” the department said.

The harassment would often happen in front of members of the district’s predominantly white faculty and staff, but they “would not respond or intervene in any way,” the department said.

Sometimes, Black and Asian American students were told “not to be so sensitive,” the department said. Concluding that school employees effectively condoned the behavior, some students stopped reporting harassment and began missing school because of it, according to the report.

Some former students said that racism had persisted in the district for decades.

Jacob Low, 32, and his younger brother, Randy Low, 27, who attended schools in the district in the early 2000s, said in separate interviews on Sunday that students and teachers had repeatedly harassed them for being half Japanese.

In high school, Jacob Low said, an English teacher taunted him in front of other students about his Japanese heritage. Their mother called administrators numerous times, he said, and told them, “You guys have a serious racism problem.”

But administrators and teachers either did not seem to know how to curb the harassment or did not care enough to try to address it, Randy Low said.