Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 Church Directory

BL School Board Responds To Racism Incidents

Last week, an incident on social media arose as two students posed in a photo of a “promposal” holding a sign that had a derogatory statement written on it. In response to the incidents, some individuals made threats against the school district and students were forced to stay home during part of the last week. The school board meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday, April 28, was rescheduled in response to the threats for Tuesday, May 4. 

“We simply could not risk putting anyone in potential danger,” said board chair Tonya Reasoner. 

She went on to say the school administration has been working very hard to ensure the safety of students and staff, and that steps were immediately taken to investigate and respond to the actions of the individuals involved in the situation. 

Superintendent Tim Truebenbach gave a summary of the incident and the school’s response, careful to preserve the anonymity of the individuals involved in compliance with data privacy laws. The original incident, a “promposal” (a proposal from one student to another to attend prom) occurred two weeks ago, after school hours. A picture of the “promposal” was posted on several social media sites, and the school became aware of the photo on Tuesday afternoon. 

“The prom in question was not a school-supported or sanctioned event,” Supt. Truebenbach stated. The prom on May 1st was arranged by parents and held in Stillwater.”

The school prom was rescheduled several weeks ago, for a date after graduation. 

The administration released a statement to the community condemning the incident as a “racially insensitive and inappropriate act.” Administration went on to unpublish official school social media pages in order to protect the privacy of students and staff. Staff from the high school and the district addressed the actions of the individuals involved in accordance with district policy.

Later on that same Tuesday night, a district employee posted a video of themselves using inappropriate, racist language. The employee was immediately placed on administrative leave. 

Staff, at the time of the board meeting, had reviewed nearly 2,000 emails and voice messages condemning the incidents as racist and demanding that the district respond. Many of the messages were hateful, and used inappropriate language against the students and staff, and several even threatened acts of violence against the schools. In consultation with local law enforcement, the administration decided it was best to switch to distance learning on Thursday and Friday of that week. Representatives of the district met with law enforcement officials on Friday to review the threats further, and officials from the BLPD and Sheriff’s office vetted the threats and ultimately deemed it to be safe for students to return to school last Monday, though the school opted to implement a two-hour late start to allow staff time to work on effective ways to communicate with students regarding the incident.  

May 20, the school will host a “community listening and learning session” at the high school, and have invited education equity consultants to help facilitate the conversation. 

An article covering the rest of the board meeting, which covered regular business, will appear in next week’s Patriot.