In a recent article, Lebanon Schools are the subject of allegations of racism in schools. A mother of two biracial children has filed a federal complaint with the United Stated Office for Civil Rights. Lebanon Schools can avert future allegations of racism in schools by empowering teachers to eliminate the perception of racism in Lebanon Schools.
According to the article, Robert Newman, an attorney for Heather Allen, said his client has complained to school officials on at least nine occasions this school year regarding racial harassment of her children in Lebanon Junior and High schools. nonetheless, school officials have failed to ensure a safe school environment for minority students, Newman said.
“It’s a 14th amendment violation when a school is made aware of racial incidents and they know that it’s impacting the minority students and they don’t do enough to prevent it or ameliorate it,” he said. “They can’t just turn a blind eye to these things.”
Several incidents at the Lebanon Schools reveal that staff members are not willing to facilitate a school environment that is free of racism. These lackadaisical responses will force Black students to foster a negative perception towards the staff members. Those incidents of alleged racism in schools are as follows:
- A Lebanon Junior High School student posted a video on the social video website Vine, in which a boy wearing a Lebanon sports jersey call a black student a racially derogatory name during what’s described as a “rap battle: at a school sporting event.
- A Lebanon Junior High teacher advised Allen’s daughter and several other students that during the last school year, a sign reading “White Only” had been posted above a water fountain at Lebanon High School.
- Allen said her daughter was called a racial slur by another student during study hall. The school counselor has a private meeting with her daughter and a school teacher that day, Allen said, but did not respond to Allen’s phone call about the conversation.
- Allen said her daughter and several other minority student overheard other students making racial slurs in the lunchroom. Allen said the girls tired to report the incident to Lebanon Junior High School Assistant Principal Theresa Greenlee, but were turned away because they didn’t have a pass.
In each incident of alleged racism in schools, an adult staff member was involved and choose to respond in a racially insensitive manner. The first incident took place at a school sporting event. That means that the sporting incident is supervised by an adult staff member. If the White and Black students are creative enough to engage in a “rap battle”, then the supervising adults need to provide a structured time and place as well as structured boundaries to express their creativity.
In the second incident, the teacher in question should not be reporting to students past racial incidents. If the teacher cannot structure their lesson plans so that students remain engaged in the instruction process an administrator needs to provide additional coaching.
In the third incident, the students were supervised by a staff member. The staff member needs to ensure that the students remain on task so that behaviors that are contradictory to the teaching and learning process are minimized.
In the fourth incident, while supervising teachers do not have an opportunity to monitor all student communication, they should provided students to talk to administrators in an emergency. For these students, the racial slurs constituted an emergency and the students were turned away. The administrators are responsible for fostering a safe school culture for all students. If the students were reporting a gun in the school, I wonder if the administrator would have listened.
In each described incident of racism in schools, staff members were insensitive to the needs of the Black students. However, overcoming the alleged Lebanon racism in schools will required empowering staff members to facilitate the needed change by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
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