SAN FRANCISCO - Today the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Northern California submitted a Public Records Act request seeking information about racial discrimination and harassment at Visalia Unified School District.
The request seeks records relating to how the district responds to racial hostility and harassment, discipline policies and procedures, and the presence of law enforcement officers at all high schools.
In November 2017, after a student wore a confederate flag sweatshirt to school, the district proposed a ban on “hate group” symbols. During a school board meeting to address this issue, the ACLU and partners asked the board to vote NO on this proposal because it was too vague and did not address the root causes of racism on campus. At the meeting, students and community members provided public comment about the district’s history of racial hostility and division, and the district committed to confront schoolwide racism on campus to ensure students are learning in a welcoming environment.
Despite this initial commitment, Visalia Unified has not addressed racial bias on campus, and recently backed away from an agreement to work with the ACLU to combat racism and discrimination.
“While we were hopeful when the district initially suggested that it would agree to a written plan to address racial hostility on campus, the district has since decided not to take those steps,” said Abre’ Conner, staff attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Northern California. “We remain concerned that students will continue to face discrimination and racial harassment in the district.”
Tonight, students, teachers, and community members are submitting public comments at the Visalia Unified School Board Meeting to share their personal experiences and their disappointment that the district has failed to adequately address the racial harm that students of color face at their schools.
The school board meeting will be held at 5000 W. Cypress Avenue, Visalia, CA. Closed session starts at 5:30 pm and open session begins at 7:00 pm.
The Public Records Act request is available here.