March 30, 2023

No Whites Allowed: Fifth-Grade College Club for ‘People associated with Color’ Discriminates Against Whitened Students

Email explained fifth-grade group as every week lunchtime hang out exclusive simply to BIPOC students in order to provide them with ‘safe space. ‘

A club at an elementary school within Olympia, Washington, is being offender of racial discrimination after it barred a white student from joining because of his skin color.

The mother of a Centennial Elementary School student says she was shocked when she recently learned her son was excluded from joining a club helping BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and individuals of color) students.

Mom Jessica Juergens told KOMO News by not allowing him to participate the school club was being racially prejudiced against the girl white son, who would have joined as an ally.

“ My child came home and stated that they came into the lessons, and they were promoting this particular and talked it up towards the students, but then he found out that since he had been white, he wasn’t capable to participate, ” the mom, Jessica Juergens, told KOMO News.

“ They have their friends they want to play with at lunch time, and a fourth or fifth grader can’t understand why they can’t play with their friends. ”

“ I feel like it’s promoting segregation at our schools, plus we’ve moved away from that, ” the concerned mom added.

An email obtained by KOMO Information distributed by school principal Shannon Ritter described the fifth-grade group as a weekly lunch hang out exclusive only to BIPOC students in order to provide them with the “ safe space. ”

“ At this time, the group is limited to students who also identify as BIPOC, ” the letter addressed through the Principal Ritter stated.

A statement from a district spokesperson to KOMO News appeared to confirm the “ mentor program” had been districtwide and sanctioned by the district.

“ The purpose of the particular districtwide OSD Mentor System is to provide leadership plus mentoring opportunities for learners with an emphasis on historically underrepresented populations including students of color and those impacted by poverty. Staff work with students to determine their goals and requirements by building relationships and creating spaces for students to talk about experiences which informs the way the program is built.

The Dark, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mentor Group on Centennial Elementary School, plus some other schools, is an outgrowth of this districtwide effort. It serves students by providing possibilities for peer interaction as well as a space for social, psychological and academic support. This particular space allows for more honest and open conversations regarding differences and identity and exactly how it impacts one’s encounters in school. It is designed to be considered a student-led group facilitated simply by an adviser to arrange for leadership opportunities.

Groups like this are important for elevating voices and are instrumental in helping our district design a reactive educational experience that satisfies the needs of all students. At the same time, we recognize that they cannot end up being exclusionary. Moving forward, we will make sure that school leadership and staff are specific about the purpose of these groups, while concurrently removing any exclusions to participation.

Yes, I can confirm that Principal Ritter sent the e-mail you attached to your e-mail request for comment. ”

Addressing the parent’s complaint, the spokesperson for the Office associated with Superintendent of Public Instruction, which oversees K-12 general public education in Washington, stated there’s no guidance on “ appreciation groups, ” but that a student who feels segregated could file a issue “ and we would be prone to provide technical assistance to the school to clarify that they should not exclude students who wish to take part. ”

Meanwhile, the mom’s worried about getting retaliated against for publicizing the incident, but states she “ wants the particular district to act. ”

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