NORTH BEND — The day after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, North Bend Middle School reported two separate incidents of racist acts toward students.
Students shouted and chanted "Go back to Mexico" at an 11-year-old student from Colombia who is an American citizen, while racist jokes reportedly were told throughout the school.
Principal Darrell Johnston and Assistant Principal Ralph Brooks stepped in once they heard what happened and held an impromptu assembly to talk about the school's harassment policy.
“They went over the steps we take as a district to handle racism,” said Superintendent Bill Yester. “They met with the students, which usually handles these types of things, and let them know our policies and that with two or three steps, or recurring actions will lead to suspension.”
Yester said it was important for the school officials to meet with the student body, which was done during recess, because “We do not promote anything like that. We want all our kids to feel safe in our schools and our administration knows that. They take on these challenges and try to stop them right away.”
Yester said that the reason for the spike in racial bullying was due to the elections, but after jumping on the issue as quickly as they did, “We're going to be in good shape. We will continue to watch it, and parents were called about their students behavior, but if those parents are supportive, this will stop.”
Melinda Silver, parent to the 11-year-old who was bullied, said this was not an isolated incident, but one that has continued ever since Donald Trump's presidential campaign started.
When Trump announced his candidacy, he drew criticism from many sectors when he said, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending us their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
Silver said she is heartbroken and afraid for her son, whom she said has been exposed to kids repeating statements they've heard from Trump and his supporters at speeches and rallies.
“Yesterday, when I dropped him off at his mostly white school, two boys shouted at him to go back to Mexico,” Silver said. “He has been told that before at school. This handsome, talented, intelligent, athletic child is the first victim of the Trump racist rhetoric. They told him to go home where he belongs, that he doesn't belong here. But his home is here.”
Silver said it doesn't matter where you are from, but for people to remember the words on the Statue of Liberty, which read, "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
“Please speak up,” Silver urged to parents, students, and the public. “Do not let hatred and ignorance win. These words hurt.”
Yester said no other school in the district reported racist incidents yesterday or today, but that he and the rest of the administration are working hard to “make sure our kids are all treated the same, and are safe and secure in our schools.”