Clovis USD responds to 'slave' messages with counselors and meetings

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Clovis Unified is investigating a series of racially charged texts and social media posts made by several young people, including students who attend the district's high schools. (KFSN)

Superintendent Eimear O'Farrell, Ed.D. said in a statement on Sunday that the investigation is ongoing but meetings will be held with students and parents and a team of counselors and school leaders will be visiting classrooms or holding assemblies to reinforce expectations around "mutual respect and character among our diverse student body."

The statement also said administrators from all of the district's high school have reached out to African American student and parent groups to assure them they are investigating the situation.

The statement comes after racially charged text messages and Twitter posts made by several young people in the community, including students who attend the district's high schools. The posts included hateful images and messages about owning and even killing slaves.

Here is the full statement issued by the district:

"It is with a heavy heart that I am reaching out to our Clovis Unified community today to address an intolerable string of text messages and social media posts that came to the attention of school administrators over the weekend. These posts, shared among young people in the community, at least some of whom attend Clovis Unified high schools, contained racially charged language and imagery directed at African Americans in general. Derogatory and inciting language such as was used in these messages has absolutely no place in our schools and is contradictory to the character and ethics we expect from our students.

"While our investigation into these public comments is ongoing, we have taken several immediate steps to encourage a secure and positive school environment when classes resume Monday morning.

First, school administrators from all of our high schools have reached out to African American student and parent groups over the past 48 hours to assure them that we are aware of and are investigating the situation.

Meetings will be held tomorrow and in the coming days with student and parent groups impacted by the actions of these teens in the community.
Teams of counselors and school leaders will be visiting every classroom or holding assemblies early this week to reinforce our expectations around mutual respect and character among our diverse student body.

"Currently, our investigation is focused on the extent of authority granted schools to pursue disciplinary consequences for online comments posted outside of school hours or activities. We are committed to taking whatever time and effort is necessary to exhaust every disciplinary avenue available to us in order that our actions may send a strong message to underscore the intolerableness of such behavior.

"In addition to writing to our families this afternoon to inform you of this disheartening situation, I am writing to encourage our community toward respect and unity. I encourage all of us to stand together, and to model for our community's youth the truth that our attitudes toward each other are not defined by the actions of a small isolated group of individuals. Thank you for your attention to this message, and for your on-going partnership in creating a mutually respectful and secure environment on our school campuses."

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