Thursday, March 13, 2003

Mason schools tackling race after remarks cited



By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Parents upset about students' racial comments raised their concerns with the board of education this week.

Tuesday evening's meeting was the second time one mother has spoken out about her daughter - a freshman at Mason High School - being the target of a racial remark by a male student.

In a meeting last month, another parent told the board of derogatory comments made to a student at a basketball game.

Tuesday evening, one parent said a student had told his kindergartner that he was "poop" as a reason his skin was darker.

"None of us condone that kind of conduct," Superintendent Kevin Bright said, adding that the district was working on more diversity education.

Deborah Davis said the racial remark was directed at her 14-year-old daughter as she was leaving Mason High School last month. Davis said she was surprised and disappointed that "very little has been done," and encouraged the district to have roundtable discussions.

Bright said at Tuesday's meeting that administrators have met several times and continue to work on the issue. He added that the student who made the comment has since withdrawn from the school.

"Intolerant communications" violate the school code of conduct. Nearly 91 percent of the district's students are white, according to the most recent state data available.

Ken Chatfield said his 6-year-old son, who is in kindergarten, was on the bus when he was told he was "poop."

"We can look at that and say that's just a childish thing, but not in light of everything else that's going on," he said. "Education is our only weapon against this. Boycotts won't do it. Sit-ins won't do it. ... Unless we educate our children, we lose all hope."

School administrators agreed more education was needed, saying they were going to include additional diversity training for staff. They also are looking into more educational programs for students.

"We're not where we need to be with dealing with diversity," Bright said. "More than tolerance, we need to be accepting of others."

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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