'Racial Harmony' Returns Friday to Samohi

Parents demanded the program's return after a black student was bullied last spring in the school's locker room. Violence and tension are still prevalent on campus.

A popular program that compels students to talk openly about racism will be resurrected Friday at , where the community continues to reel from racially-motivated, student-on-student violence.

The latest fights broke out March 30 on the eve of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District spring break, according to Superintendent Sandra Lyon.

Summarizing an email the high school's principal sent to parents, Lyon said Thursday night at a Board of Education meeting that in one of the two recent incidents, a group of girls riding a city bus "engaged in a series of unacceptable behavior, including threats and hate speech." In another, parents told the board that a black student was videotaped getting kicked in the head.

In its earlier incarnations, Racial Harmony was a three-day event that occurred on-and-off throughout the past decade at Samohi. The Santa Monica Daily Press reported earlier this year that the program ended in 2010 when the program's founder, a Santa Monica High School alumnus, was laid off

This year, however, the retreat will take place over the course of just one day. Superintendent Lyon explained that students have more commitments now than they did 10 years ago, leaving them with less time to participate in the voluntary program.

"People will assess if it’s enough or if more is needed and then we’ll adjust," said board member Oscar de la Torre.

Parents have demanded the return of the program since a black student was allegedly bullied by white wrestling teammates in June 2011. The .

For months—board meeting after board meeting—parents have continued to call on district leaders to change the campus environment so that students are more culturally sensitive.


Those pleas continued Thursday night as the board finalized goals and tasks for a newly reconstituted advisory committee called the Intercultural Equity and Excellence District Advisory Committee. It will focus on closing the so-called achievement gap, serve as liaison between parents and the board and "address issues of intercultural equity and excellence."

"We have a number of things in the works," said Lyon, listing new curriculum, a "leadership and diversity day," and a forum for black students, among others.

Stay up to date on Santa Monica news and events by following @StaMonicaPatch and “liking” us on Facebook.

George Hason April 20, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Why do false statements about the alleged racial incident that occurred last year at Santa Monica High School continue to be printed, when the DA has announced there was no evidence of any anti-racial hate crime? It is so dismaying to see the lies propagated by the parents of the alleged victim (s) continually repeated by the press, when they have been proven false. If there was any evidence of a racially motivated incident the DA would have pressed charges. There was no dummy hung by a noose, it never happened, and there was no racial motivation for the locker room antics! It was horseplay that had no racial slant. Stop repeating the lies that were fabricated for a payday for these unethical parents.
Jenna Chandler April 20, 2012 at 06:41 PM
George: The DA hasn't pressed charges because the accused students agreed to enter a counseling program and take responsibility for what happened. Here's what we reported back in December about the outcome of the DA investigation: "The two students will enroll in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Juvenile Offender Intervention Network, whereby in lieu of prosecution, offenders acknowledge responsibility for their acts and agree to pay restitution, maintain good school attendance and perform community service" (Full story here: http://santamonica.patch.com/articles/samohi-wrestling-punishment). Still, we continue to use "reportedly" and "allege" when describing the incident. I'm curious why you think this turned out to be a "payday" for those parents?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »