ELK GROVE, Calif. – December 9, 2019 – On Wednesday, December 4th, school officials at Pleasant Grove High School (PGHS), located in Elk Grove, CA, took swift and immediate action to investigate a report that one of the school’s Muslim students was a victim of hate speech and a hateful act on campus after school following a tutoring session. School officials immediately reported the incident to law enforcement who also responded to investigate. The student victim was not physically harmed and school officials promptly took appropriate action to care for the student victim’s needs and immediately contact and work with student victim’s family. As of today, this matter remains under investigation both by school officials and law enforcement and individuals are strongly encouraged to bring any information forward through a written report on by using the school’s online reporting tool.
In a letter to parents sent to parents on Thursday, December 5th, school officials expressed the following, “In solidarity with our entire school community, bullying, hate speech, expressions of hate and hateful acts of any kind are not and shall not be tolerated at PGHS nor at any school within the Elk Grove Unified School District. Such despicable and detestable acts and/or expressions of hate corrode every educational principle, philosophy and policy we are charged with upholding. To ensure student wellness and to maintain a positive and safe learning environment for all students, our school leadership team and staff will continue to demonstrate respect and genuine care toward all and continue to provide a positive harmonious environment in which student unity and respect for the diverse makeup of the school community is cherished, promoted and protected.”
School officials further noted that information about the incident was communicated to students and staff and that everything must be done to demonstrate the importance of being more knowing, understanding and accepting of others and disavow hate, capture the incredible power of our collective diversity, creativity and intelligence, and make our school community a beacon others will look to as a place where individuality, acceptance and empathy are celebrated and our beautiful diversity is known as a major strength.
Following the incident, school officials followed established protocols for managing hate when expressed in a public school setting, such as responding immediately, maintain student and staff safety, educate and raise awareness toward acceptable behavior expectations at school and work with the community to further support the school’s educational efforts in support of multicultural and underrepresented groups. Based upon these established protocols, school officials worked together with students, staff and several families and community members, including representatives from the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), to raise student voice and support at a community-building event.
In addition to the school’s established protocols and plans for responding to an act or expression of hate, in working together with school officials further ideas came forward to augment current response practices. School officials and student groups currently have the following measures in place:
- One to two times per month, assemble the Student Equity Council (formerly known as PGHS Unity Group), which is in its 4th year, comprised of approximately 25 student leaders who represent all activities, academies, clubs and underrepresented groups on campus, led by a teacher, counselor, and vice principal. The group’s purpose is for students to share issues on campus affecting their group with each other and with admin and staff, to learn about each other’s culture, religion, gender and sexual orientation for stronger unification, to learn how to be upstanders and to present information about their group to students and staff to bring education and awareness to all.
- Monthly cultural heritage events/activities organized by multicultural student leaders to educate staff and students.
- Annual multicultural assembly in January (12 years in the running with increasing student performance participation), organized by student leaders where students representing diverse cultures perform for the student body, staff and parents.
- Continue the work of the school site’s equity team comprised of admin, counselor and teacher representatives who work directly with California State University Sacramento professors in the area of education equity, which created a site equity plan.
- Continue the school’s participation in the Elk Grove Unified School District’s pilot program for delivering Culturally Responsive Minds Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) materials through the school’s Advocacy program, which reaches every student.
- Continue to support student voice and student led unity events that show support and solidarity for groups affected by occurrences of hate speech or an act of hate.
Upon the conclusion of the initial community-building event, the following immediate actions steps came forward as added measures for school officials:
- Continue working with local law enforcement with the investigation and encourage the sharing of information.
- Ask the Student Unity Council to ensure that all cultural/religious clubs and underrepresented groups on campus are represented at an upcoming planned meeting.
- Meet with the school’s Equity group, Pleasant Grove TV coordinator, cultural club advisors, and teacher leaders to determine methods of furthering and communicating continued education, respect, compassion and awareness to the school’s student body on the diverse cultures represented on our campus.
- Meet and work with CAIR representatives to determine next steps in supporting our Muslim students and educating school staff and student body.
- Increase security after school for students who need to be on campus for academics, athletics and club activities.
The Elk Grove Unified School District expects that all of its policies regarding anti-bullying, harassment and discrimination are upheld. In the District’s commitment to the core values of a diverse and tolerant democratic society, EGUSD does not condone or support behavior by students, staff, or visitors, which insults, degrades, or stereotypes any race, gender, disability, physical characteristics, ethnic group, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or religion.
As a highly diverse, multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual school district, EGUSD is committed to providing a positive and harmonious environment in which student unity and respect for the diverse makeup of the school community is cherished, promoted and protected. As such, EGUSD policies and practices address situations that threaten any of our schools’ ability to provide positive and harmonious educational environments across EGUSD, characterized by respect, tolerance, sensitivity and care.
In efforts of continuous improvements, the Elk Grove Unified School District will:
- Encourage values and attributes in our students, which evoke self-discipline, responsibility, self-confidence enthusiasm, moral development, recognition of the rights and individuality of others, which promote student unity.
- Work in partnership with parents to teach civic values, digital citizenship and ethics that focus on honesty, respect, responsibility and morality. The teaching of human dignity, empathy, justice, civility, courage and community will continue to be part of everyday lessons.
- Work together with a broad and diverse group of staff, Board Representative, parents and community members in support of the District’s Educational Equity Strategic Plan.
- Provide professional learning, leadership development and Equity training.
- Adopt curriculum review processes that include staff, administrative and parent review and input with a specific focus on diversity.
About the Elk Grove Unified School District
The Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD) is the fifth-largest school district in California located in southern Sacramento County. EGUSD covers 320 square miles and includes 67 schools: 42 elementary schools, nine middle schools, nine high schools, five alternative education schools, an adult school, one charter school and a virtual academy. Offering a multitude of educational programs, including over 70 career-themed academies and pathways within 15 industry sectors, we prepare our students for college and career by supporting them with the means to be creative problem solvers; self-aware, self-reliant, and self-disciplined; technically literate; effective communicators and collaborators; and engaged in the community as individuals with integrity. We integrate rigorous academics with career-based learning and real world workplace experiences and ensure that Every Student is Learning, in Every Classroom, in Every Subject, Every Day to Prepare College, Career and Life Ready Graduates.
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