Parents, ACLU demand change at Fresno Unified after series of racist incidents

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Parents of Fresno Unified students spoke up, demanding change after what they say has been a series of racist incidents.

"A tone needs to be set for what is and what isn't acceptable within the school district," said Erika Paggett.

A line of parents took to the podium to speak at the board Wednesday night. They all called for an improvement in policy and communication.

"We need policy," said one parent. "We need staff and students and that acts of racism will be taken seriously."

Their demands stemming from recent incidents, including a substitute teacher who grabbed a student by the neck, and a Bullard High student shown on video with her face painted black and using racial slurs.

Erika Paggett was one of the parents who spoke and said her child goes to Bullard High but never heard about the video until she saw it online.

RELATED: Fresno Unified administrators address videos of Bullard High student in blackface, using racial slur

"I was asking questions about what's going on," she said. "What info is available for parent and nothing at all."

As a result, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation sent a letter to board president Claudia Cazares.

In it, it claims the district fails to make an inclusive environment for African American students and does not track racial incidents.

"We're calling for the district to have tangible resources, tangible tracking systems and tangible processes to make sure there is a safe and welcoming environment for black parents," said ACLU representative Abre Conner.

Parents and community activists not only want a change in policy but more diversity in their administration and accountability.

"Where's the voicemail sent out to parents...where's the counselors' setup?" asked community activist Stacey Williams.

The board didn't respond to comments made during the meeting, but district officials recently addressed the issue stating they plan to educate students on the historical hurt behind a derogatory word and image.

The ACLU is also calling for the board to hold a special session in which they speak with African American parents and students to create effective policies, and improve their education moving forward.
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